GLENDALE - Defenseman Jakob Chychrun can sense the Coyotes are an up-and-coming NHL team and he wants to be part of it immediately.
"I'm 110 percent here to win a job with the Coyotes this season," Chychrun said. "I've been preparing for this for a long time and I feel I'm very ready, both mentally and physically, for the next jump in my career. Obviously I have to play well and prove I'm ready, but I think I've given myself every opportunity to succeed and to be in this position. I just have to go out there and play and let my play take over and hopefully I'll win a spot."
Arizona traded up at this year's NHL Draft to select Chychrun with the 16th overall pick. He and 28 other prospects will take the ice at Gila River Arena for the first day of rookie camp on Saturday.
The Coyotes liked what they saw from Chychrun at Prospect Development Camp in July. He skated well, moved the puck nicely and displayed a very high hockey IQ; it appeared as if he's been coached to play a pro style from an early age.
"Jakob plays a mature game," General Manager John Chayka said. "Physically, he stands out among his peers and his skill-set is phenomenal for a defenseman especially."
The Coyotes are deep on defense but Chychrun, 18, believes he can earn a spot in the mix if he can prove himself at training camp, and that begins with a strong showing at the five-day rookie camp.
"This is my first NHL camp so I think I definitely have to make a statement early," Chychrun said. "I will be focused on rookie camp first and foremost. I have to make sure I'm even going to main camp so I'm definitely not downplaying the rookie camp at all. That's the way I need to look at it. I know I have to perform there. It's the first good look they'll have at me so I'm going to make a good statement and then carry that on at the main camp."
Chychrun has been skating informally and working out with other Coyotes - prospects and vets - this week in Scottsdale. He likes the vibe around the group.
"I'm lucky to be able to train with all these pros and to see what they do on a day-to-day basis," Chychrun said. "That's great for me to see. I'm looking forward to going to my first NHL camp and what's to come. I want to help this team win. It's a young team and I want to be able to grow with the young crop they have here and have us all come up together. There's a very bright future ahead for this organization and I want to be a big part of it."
Chayka believes it's not a matter of "if" Chychrun becomes part of the team, but "when."
So, could it be as soon as this season?
"Jakob's a very driven kid and he's a real goal setter, and one of his goals is to come in and try to make this team right now," Chayka said. "So, we're going to give him every opportunity to do that. We'll watch him keenly and let him dictate his future. I know what he wants is to be able to dictate his future and he'll get that opportunity here starting this weekend."