It was a big day for Coyotes defenseman Jacob Chychrun on Tuesday. Less than an hour before Chychrun was set to make his season debut against the Red Wings, Arizona announced a six-year contract extension for the young blue-liner. The deal reportedly carries an AAV of $4.6-million and will keep Chychrun with the Coyotes through the 2024-2025 season.
Chychrun’s return to the lineup didn’t go as planned, as the Coyotes suffered a 6-1 beating at the hands of the Red Wings. Chychrun unfortunately ended the game with a -2 rating but posted a 61.1 CF% in 20:39 TOI; an admirable performance in his first game since suffering a torn ACL last April. Chychrun said it felt good to be back on the ice despite the ugly result.
“It’s good to be back. Obviously, it was a long road,” said Chychrun. “I was itching to get back. This is where I want to be, out on the ice with the guys and going to battle with them.”
The torn ACL was the second major knee injury of Chychrun’s 2017-18 season. He missed 28 games at the start of the year after crushing his meniscus in early October. It’s a little surprising to see the Coyotes commit long-term to Chychrun considering his knee issues, but it could be a bargain for the team if he can manage to stay healthy moving forward. Coyotes general manager John Chayka said despite the injuries, Chychrun was always apart of the team’s long-term plan.
“[Chychrun] has battled through some adversity with injuries the last two years,” said Chayka. “But we remain confident that he has the necessary size, talent & work ethic to be one of our core players for many years to come.”
Still just 20-years old, Chychrun has shown promising potential when healthy. Despite sliding to the No.16-overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Chychrun broke camp with Arizona in 2016-17 and logged 20 points in 68 games as an 18-year-old. Though the knee injuries limited him to just 50 games, Chychrun saw an increase in ice time last season and should continue to see his role grow as the aging Alex Goligoski’s ice time begins to slide. In Chychrun and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona has an excellent core to build their blue-line around for years to come.