Young Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun is getting ready to make his season debut tonight against the Detroit Red Wings and when he hits the ice, he’ll do so with the confidence of a brand new contract. Chychrun has signed a six-year extension, as first reported by The Athletic’s Craig Morgan and later confirmed by the team. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman adds that the deal carries a $4.6MM cap hit, totaling $26.7MM over the six-year term.
The Coyotes’ willingness to commit this magnitude of years and dollars to a player that hasn’t played in an NHL game since April and has just 118 games under his belt speaks measures about what they see in him. Chychrun, 20, was the 16th overall pick in 2016, considered a steal by Arizona in the eyes of many. After a strong rookie campaign, Chychrun was limited to just 50 games last season by a nagging knee injury, the same ACL tear that has had him sidelined thus far in 2018-19. However, when healthy Chychrun has shown flashes of brilliance. A talented two-way defenseman, he has shown ample ability in all three zones with both a composed offensive game and gritty defensive game. Chychrun was able to earn over 20 minutes of ice time per game last year on a Coyotes team that featured established veteran defensemen like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, and Niklas Hjalmarsson. If health is not a continuing issue, Chychrun projects to be a top-four if not top-pair defender for Arizona.
Moving forward, the Coyotes have clearly designated Chychrun and Ekman-Larsson as the future of their blue line. Both are signed through 2024-25 with their recently-signed extensions – Ekman-Larsson inked his new deal this summer – at cap hits that could end up being well below their respective market values. Goligoski, Demers, and Hjalmarsson are all signed for two more years as well, giving Arizona a solid group for some time, with the likes of Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Filip Westerlund still on the way. The future is bright for the Coyotes defensively and they hope a healthy Chychrun can lead the charge.