Being a hockey scout has to be a tough job. Not only do you have to focus on the players competing at a variety levels for the current draft year, but you also need to be prepared to check out players that will be available in the next couple of years. It’s hard enough as it is to decide whether a player in the upcoming draft is good enough to be successful NHLer, so it’s only natural to believe that tabbing a player as the next big thing years down the road must be an even tougher task.
But for some players, it’s a no-brainer, and Sarnia Sting defenseman Jakob Chychrun could easily be the next big thing.
The first overall pick in the 2014 OHL Draft, the young defenseman caught the eye of the hockey world after scoring his first two goals of his young career in a single game against the Mississauga Steelheads in early October. Chychrun led all Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) defensemen in goals (16), assists (27) and points (43) through 29 games played last season while competing with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens AAA Midget team.
Despite missing the OHL Cup in March with an injury, Chychrun led his Jr. Canadiens team to a GTHL Championship title last year before the team fell to the Toronto Marlboros in the OHL Cup finals. Chychrun competed with Team Ontario at the 2014 World U-17 Hockey Challenge where he scored four points in five games last year, catching the eye of scouts everywhere. How many high school students can say they have been a star for their own country at an international event?
A Florida-born defenseman who transferred over to play in Canada, Chychrun already has NHL blood in the pipeline. His father, Jeff, was a Stanley Cup Champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, while his uncle, Luke Richardson, won two medals (including a gold in 1994) with Team Canada at the World Championships. Chychrun was fortunate enough to have a lot of guidance during the early stages of his life, as both family members had long NHL careers prior to the Sarnia Sting defenseman finding himself on the maps of big league scouts.
Currently the second top leading scorer on the Sting, Chychrun is a big, tall defenseman that takes up a lot of the ice. He has proven already to excel when he gets more ice time, and is especially impressive on the PP and PK. Featuring a great wrist shot and an even better slap shot, Chychrun hows good patience and on ice awareness that most players his age still have matching. In essence, it’s almost as if he’s a slightly smaller Shea Weber, but at 6’2 and 188 pounds at the age of 16, he still has a lot of time to grow before his name gets called at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
While it’s still early, it’s almost a given that Chychrun will be one of the first players to have his name called in Buffalo at the NHL draft in two years. He will have his work cut out for him in the long run if he hopes to be the top defenseman in the draft; with names like Sean Day, Victor Mete and Kale Clague ready to snag an early position, but Chychrun may be the best out of all of them. The hard-hitting Sarnia defenseman will have his second chance at glory with Team Canada this month, as the young blue-liner will represent Team White at the World U17 World Junior tournament at the end of October.
Get ready folks, he’s the real deal.
Steven is a junior hockey reporter for the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, and also focuses on international hockey for his website, TheHockeyHouse.net. You can follow Steven on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.
Photo from the Sarnia Sting website.