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Chychrun Impressing at First NHL Training Camp

Draft pick Jakob Chychrun has been a steady defender for the Coyotes during preseason

by Anthony Perez @The_Anthony_P / Arizona Coyotes Correspondent

GLENDALE -- Between being drafted by the Coyotes, attending his first prospect camp and now working through his first professional training camp, the last few months have been thrilling for defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

But nothing compared to the excitement he felt on Monday when he arrived at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Of course, he had attended NHL games before and coincidentally, he saw the Coyotes play the Kings in LA when he was younger, but this time around he was suiting up for his first game on NHL ice. And even though it was just a preseason game, it was still something he wanted to take a moment to soak in when he got into the building.

"I wanted to have a big first night," said Chychrun, who was drafted by the Coyotes with the 16th overall selection in this year's NHL Entry Draft. "It was obviously my first game in the League and I wanted to keep it simple and have a good night and I feel like I accomplished that."

On Monday against the Kings, Chychrun logged 22:51 of ice time and notched an assist with two shots, two hits and a blocked shot. He also played the following night in Anaheim and he logged 23:56 of ice time, while putting two shots on goal and registering a hit in Arizona's win over the Ducks.

"That was very exciting for me to get my first NHL preseason games in," Chychrun said. "Things have been going really good. I'm learning a lot, I'm still adapting to the pace of play at this level and just being around all the NHL guys has been great for me."

And he's getting his first taste of NHL action with someone who was in a very similar situation not too long ago.

Chychrun was paired with Connor Murphy in those two Southern California contests, someone who is just 23 years old, but someone who has experience that an 18-year-old defenseman like Chychrun can draw from.

"Murphy was great to play with," Chychrun said. "He's young but he signed a big contract and he's a guy that's really steady in this League. He performs every single night and it was great to play alongside him and have him communicating with me out there and just have him helping me along the way, helping me on every shift, helping me when we get back to the bench, just talking to me and kind of helping me feel a bit more comfortable out there."

Murphy said Chychrun played with a poise beyond his 18 years.

"You almost forget this is his first training camp," Murphy said. "He's so mature already. It's impressive to see how far along he is already in his development. It's fun playing with him because he's smart and a good defender. He's only going to get better so it's going to be fun to see how good he becomes."

When Chychrun was drafted back in June, he was excited to be headed to Arizona. When he arrived to prospect camp in July, he said his eventual goal was to make the team's opening night roster. And now that he's in camp with the veterans, his goals have not changed.

"I came in here wanting to play here this year and I think everyday that goes by makes me not want to leave that much more," Chychrun said. "Everyday I'm here, even these two games I played, I think everything that's happening just feels really good, just feels really natural, it's given me more and more confidence every day that I can play here, that I can help this team win every night. I'm just going to continue to prove that, continue to do all the things they want me to do and continue to try to improve on my game here every single day."

Chychrun is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday at San Jose, this time paired with Luke Schenn.

"Chychrun has played well so far," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "(He's been) really steady, exactly what we expected from him."

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