Prospectus Prospecting – Craig Smith reports on Chychrun and Falkovsky

Scouting Report Jakob Chychrun

Bio
Team: Sarnia Sting
Position: D
Shoots: Left
Height/Weight:6.02 / 214

Draft Status: 2016 Eligible

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

 

GOALS ASSISTS POINTS

 

PIMS
39 7 20 27 22

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc.)

            There is little room for future improvement in Jakob Chychrun’s skating. The Sting rearguard can embarrass the opposition with his agility. It is impressive to watch him move through a crowd as he uses his hips, shoulders and head to misdirect defenders while maintaining consistent speeds and direction. Having agility of such a high quality is rare. Off speed pitches in baseball are used to throw off the timing of batters, comparatively this is also true of Chychrun’s ability to change speeds at unexpected times and therefore throwing his opponents a “change up” so to speak. For example, Chychrun’s first rush up the ice may be a quick acceleration, at average speed, while his second may be a slower acceleration to a top speed thus leaving all but the fastest player behind. There are also times where he utilizes multiple acceleration points during an attack. Then there is the complete burst which he gets the puck from one zone to another in a matter of seconds. The former 16 goal man is a completely different skater when attacking versus defending.

Once he’s in the defensive zone and playing a coverage game, his acceleration becomes less noticeable and underutilized. Upon attempting to retrieve a loose puck or gain possession from an opposing player the speed which he has available is not taken advantage of; this is more likely due to his style which will be discussed in the hockey sense section. His transitional skating, which includes pivoting, and a three to five step slot to board positional change is strong and helps him compensate for a slight issue when defending one versus one. His skating ability will project out well at the NHL level. He has a large frame and is a very well balanced skater who can change direction without notice. This will make him difficult to stop.

Grade: 75

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc.)

Number five in black and yellow unleashes the best shot from a defender in the draft. His snap and wrist shots are comparable to Patrik Laine of Finland’s gold medal winning junior team. Velocity and accuracy are the dominant features for Chychrun’s shot. His release of the puck is closer to average. He is patient when needed and releases quickly when required. It would be nice to see less of a pull prior to the release of the puck. At worst, if he used the pull of the puck to change the trajectory of the shot as opposed to just increasing power, then the slower release would not be such a detriment. His shot meets the quality requirement to see power play time. He is a player that should be positioned at the trigger spot on the top unit. His one-timer from the high slot will force the goalie to make a difficult save. It is more often than not the puck will hit the goalie or the mesh. His straight slap shot is also very heavy and accurate. Expect goalies to dread seeing Sarnia’s captain in possession of the puck around the home plate area.

Grade: 65

Puck Skills

Referencing back to the skating grade and description, this future top ten pick uses his skating and body to repeatedly beat opposing players. This however does not conclude that Chychrun is unable to use a stick move to get around the hoard of players that gravitate to the Sting’s sophmore. When watching him handle the puck it looks effortless. If there is limited space provided and multiple players around the puck when he is in possession, he can force the puck through holes to escape while maintaining possession. His passing is unquestionably first class. Forwards are able to avoid slowing down or breaking off their routes to recieve a pass off his blade. If a player the likes of Alex DeBrincat or Mitch Marner are coming down the ice, it becomes very difficult for him to match their skating, or get body position on them; this is where it becomes a neccesity to eliminate the attack by combining an active stick with body position and/or skating. Unfortunately the combination is not available to him because of the improvement he requires with his stick checking.

Grade 6

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

The most questionable and repairable part of Sarnia’s first overall selection in 2014 is his gap control and his timing. The space which he provides the opposition is not the main concern; it is how the space is maintained. Chychrun will set up appropriately but then place his stick as far out in front as his reach will allow, eliminating any advantage in terms of space the opposing player has to plan their attack. It would also serve him positively to adjust his stance to allow his top level skating to be utilized. Sitting too low and flat footed eliminates his chance to keep up with the OHL top scorers’ speed and mobility. Another adjustment required arises once the opposition has control of the puck in Sarnia’s zone. With his array of natural physical tools it should be a breeze to separate a player from the puck. Instead, he hangs in limbo indecisive and tentative on whether to be patient or attack the puck. Too often the puck lingers below the blue line on the stick of a player in a different colored jersey. It is not that he is unaware of what is occurring on the ice, his attention to surrounding players and puck location is noticeable and positive. Once possession is gained a new player is born. Like Adam to He-Man with his sword, Chychrun becomes a dominant force when on the attack. If there is an open space to be had beyond the top of the circle, he will be there. Not only will he get to these open spots, but his arrival is almost perfectly timed. His special awareness and timing creates easy passes for his teammates and impossible situations for his opponents to stop. Passes leaving his stick from the back end are well selected and provide the best possible opportunity to move up the ice. The neutral zone is an area where simple decisions in regard to passing, carrying, or dumping the puck can become either disastrous or triumphant. Luckily for Pavel Zacha and Travis Konecny, their number one defender is very good at making those decisions. As discussed in the skating section, the change-up style of skating and the decision on when to use that style is very effective. If not used properly going too slow or too fast could leave a player all alone and outnumbered. With only 22 penalty minutes in 2015-2016 and 37 in 2014-2015, undisciplined penalties do not show up in his game tape on a regular basis.

Combining his pure physical tools along with proper coaching to correct his defensive deficiencies the grade given is higher than what the report portrays. Also given that players such as John Klingberg and Erik Karlsson have similar deficiencies and are extremely impactful due to their high-end puck moving skills it was difficult to punish Chychrun too much. In saying that, matching their level of play will be very tough to achieve.

Grade: 65

Physicality

He is a big-bodied 17 year old on a good frame, who does an exceptional job of using that which has been provided to him. Chychrun protects the puck very well at all times. He also has the capability to throw the big open ice hit. When someone is 6’2 and 214 pounds in their 17th year of existence, it is hard to imagine a purposeful amount of size or strength being added in the coming years. Physicality will not be the reason for his success or failure. The traits which he possesses will allow Chychrun to reach whatever level his development curve provides. He will have little to no issue adapting to the bigger faster NHL game, even if he goes into the league as a teenager.

Grade 60

General Assessment   

            There will be a lot of talk between scouts, media and fans as the 2016 draft approaches questioning the overall ranking of this uncontested top defender. Where does he fall versus the plethora of forwards that are available? In comparing him against Olli Juolevi and Mikhail Sergachev, Chychrun is the most complete player of the three. Juolevi made a significant push forward during the past World Junior Championship. The smooth skating Finn put up several points and impressed several scouts. The London Knights top defender does not have the physical ability, overall hockey sense, or shooting ability that Chychrun holsters. Sergachev is as good or maybe better when rushing up the ice and driving towards the net. Again he loses out in sense and shooting.

A percentage of NHL general managers still value family trees and bloodlines as an important measurable of a potential prospect. He is the son of Jeff Chychrun and the nephew of Luke Richardson; he is a second generation player that shows his maturity on and off the ice. Richardson and his nephew work together in raising awareness for mental illness alongside of the Do It for Daron Foundation. These intangibles may push a team to move Chychrun up a slot or two on an organization’s big board.

So where does the projection lie? Can his potential be reached? At least one more year of junior hockey will serve Chychrun well. He will need to work on his defensive play, both one versus one and coverage once established in the zone. His flat-footed stance when skating backwards also needs correction or he will get blown by at the pro level. If a team decides to bring him into the NHL as an 18 year old it could significantly drop the ceiling for this highlight reel player. With the right development path it’s within reach for the offensively gifted point man to see top pairing minutes.

Overall Future Potential: 66

 

Scouting Report – Stepan Falkovksy

Bio

Team: Ottawa 67’s
Position: D
Shoots: Left
Height/Weight:6.07 / 224

Draft Status: 2016 Eligible

Stats to Date:

GAMES PLAYED

 

GOALS ASSISTS POINTS

 

PIMS
36 7 14 21 12

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc.)

Stepan Falkovsky has exceptional mobility and agility for such a large person. He does not move at an alarming rate, but is able to maintain pace with most of the other players. He will not get caught being turned around; he is balanced and controlled while pivoting. This Belarusian takes longer than most to reach full speed. Once he has reached maximum throttle is he has good speed. When down low behind the net or in the corners, Falkovsky is able to skate laterally in order to maintain an ideal body position keeping himself between puck handler and the net. Do not sleep on this super-sized barber pole; he is quicker than he looks.

Grade: 50

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc.)

This OHL rookie does not have a nose for the net. While he has a very powerful and heavy slap shot, it is common for Falkovsky to just place a shot on net. Despite a decent total of seven goals, he does not shoot to score on most occasions. His shot selection is decent, there are times when he could release a full shot but chooses a safe shot instead. He does not make much use of a wrist shot; his wrist shot resembles an extremely fast pass.

Grade: 45

Puck Skills

Where Falkovsky shines is in the use of his stick to take the puck off the blade of the opposition. He does not fall back on his size and strength. On a rare occasion the 67’s defensive leader will surprise and show quick and creative hands to keep a puck inside the offensive zone. Arguably his best asset is his outlet pass. There are no other players in Ottawa who can compare to Falkovsky when it comes to moving the puck up and out of the 67’s end. He has the unique talent to make stretch passes from his backhand; it provides a distance advantage when bypassing forecheckers. The grade awarded is more of a depiction of his passing and stick check ability than his ability to deke.

Grade: 50

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

At six feet and seven inches tall it is important that Falkovsky appropriately uses his reach to keep attacking players at an advantageous distance. He times the closure of gaps well and then applies his A+ stick check. He is very well positioned in the corners and in front of the net. He does not allow players to freely move into a scoring area. When preventing scoring opportunities he generally makes very good decisions. When trying to jump in to an open area on offence, he usually comes in two or three steps too late. This is probably the result of thinking defense first and ensuring it is safe to jump. Falkovsky is a low risk, low reward player. It is not that he is afraid to assist in the rush as this it does not happen in each game.

Grade: 50

Physicality

This area is as obvious as one would think for a player of this size. He is strong and difficult to move. Intimidation is hard to quantify, however it is visible with Falkovsky. A large percentage of players will dump the puck in and slow down to avoid being hit by him. Given his ability to move the puck, players may want to risk being hit to keep the puck on offence. He will engage with a body check if only to separate the player and puck.

Grade: 60

General Assessment

Falkovsky has grown by leaps and bounds during the current OHL campaign. His confidence with the puck is showing up with every added game. He was off the radar to start the season. Coming over from Europe as a 19 year-old made him an unknown entity. Expect him to continue to ascend up the rankings leading into the draft. A late second or third round selection would not be surprising. Falkovsky obviously has the size to play in the NHL, but he will also have the skating and sense as he continues to improve. A realistic slot for this sleeping giant to awaken into would be a third pairing and penalty killing role.

Overall Future Potential: 51.25

2 thoughts on “Prospectus Prospecting – Craig Smith reports on Chychrun and Falkovsky

  1. Pingback: Kosmic's Top Ten 2016 NHL Draft Propects: #3 Jakob Chychrun - Beer League Heroes

  2. Pingback: Guest Post: @Red_Vikreig Previews the 2016 NHL Draft for Ottawa | The 6th Sens

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