The excitement surrounding young Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun and his return to the lineup was short-lived. After missing 32 games last season with a knee injury and the beginning of this campaign due to off-season surgery, Chychrun finally got back into to the ’Yotes lineup on Tuesday night. He even celebrated his return by signing a six-year extension just hours before the game. However, Chychrun was held out of last night’s game, listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered in just his first game back. His bad luck got worse today, as CapFriendly reports that Chychrun has been placed on injured reserve with the upper-body condition and is set to miss even more time.
Chychrun, 20, was the 16th overall pick in 2016 and has shown a well-rounded arsenal of ability even in his limited 119 games over two plus seasons. However, the same concerns expressed when he signed his long-term, $26.7MM contract this week are now amplified even further. Chychrun would be far from the first NHL player to show incredible talent, but simply struggle to stay on the ice. Granted, an injured Chychrun can be placed on IR and does not affect the cap calculations of the Coyotes, a low-budget team anyway. However, if the composition of the team moving forward is built around a dependence on Chychrun’s availability, that could be trouble for GM John Chayka and company. There is also the possibility that reoccurring injuries begin to toll on the style and intensity of Chychrun’s game, especially since the young rearguard has shown a propensity for toughness and grit early on. There is substantial risk in Chycrhun’s new extension and yet another injury only exasperates it.
With Chychrun out, joining Alex Goligoski on the IR, as well as concerns over the availability of Jason Demers, who left last night’s game with a lower-body injury, the Arizona defensive corps is beat up right now. The team recalled Robbie Russo earlier this morning and fortunately still have Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson at 100%. Still, the likes of Kevin Connauton, Jordan Oesterle, and Ilya Lyubushkin will be asked to step up while the team works its way back to full health on the blue line.