Coyotes prospect Chychrun ‘can loosen up, play the way we think he can’ after falling down draft order

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As the first round of the NHL Draft continued, Jakob Chychrun had to wait for his name to be called.

It wasn’t until the Arizona Coyotes traded up, taking on Pavel Datsyuk’s contract, that Chychrun finally got to walk up on stage, shake commissioner Gary Bettman’s hand and stand for the photos in his new jersey, with his new team’s select hockey staff.

With such qualities like size and skating ability and by all accounts a big shot, he was taken 16th overall, a drop from earlier projections during the season that had him as a potential top-five pick, perhaps even as high as a potential top-three choice.

He ended up being the fifth defenseman taken in the opening round.

It was the byproduct of a draft season that saw him score 11 goals and 49 points with Sarnia in the OHL, after shoulder surgery the previous year.

“He didn’t have a great (world juniors) camp, to be honest, and the pace was higher, but that’s the best players in Canada and they’re almost all 19 years old while he was 17 then,” Trevor Letowski, Chychrun’s former coach in Sarnia, told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

“In the OHL vs. Russia series, he didn’t play his best, and those were important events for scouting so I think that’s where that view was created, but if you got a bigger sample size of Jakob, I think you’d have a different impression.”

The Coyotes entered the draft needing to build up their list of prospects on defense.

But the Coyotes — specifically director of player development Steve Sullivan — have advice for the 18-year-old Chychrun as he enters these earliest stages of his pro career.

“I think it was about being tense,” said Sullivan, as per the Coyotes website. “All the pressure of wanting to be second overall and maybe not having a great season; it snowballed the wrong way for him.

“Now he needs to understand he’s been drafted into the National Hockey League and we’re going to put him in a game plan to get him here as fast as we can. He can loosen up and play the way we think he can play. If that happens, there is no reason why he won’t be here sooner than later.”

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