As training camp draws near, a number of Coyotes players have begun to assemble for informal skates at Gila River Arena, many taking the ice together for the first time since April. With the offseason coming to a close, we touch base with a few names to catch up on the preceding months and the season ahead.
They're Back: Summer Q&A Series
Jakob Chychrun is entering his fourth season with Arizona. The Coyotes' first-round selection from the 2016 NHL Draft matched his career-high in points last year despite playing in only 53 games. The 21-year-old defenseman was signed to a six-year contract extension last November.
You're back in Arizona for the upcoming season, how was your summer?
I spent about a month in Florida and then the rest of the summer at the cottage just outside of Ottawa. It was really good, I took a lot of time off at the end of the year, I was battling a lot of tendinitis in my knee so I took a good month, month-and-a-half off to let it relax and recover. I started skating again when I got to the cottage, I think I learned a lot about training differently, training smart, listening to my body, giving my body more rest and trying to stay fresh for when camp starts.
What was the highlight of your time spent away from the rink?
My family went on a trip - we haven't been on a trip in years because I've been sidelined the last couple summers. My sister, when she was in college, was still going to summer school, so she could never get out, so it had been a long time. We took a good trip to Denmark, we have really close family friends in Copenhagen, it was a very fun time.
Did you keep in touch or train with any of your teammates during the offseason?
We all keep in touch, for sure. I think it's important to check in on guys. Toward the end of the summer I was getting so anxious and so excited to get back here, I told the guys the whole flight from Ottawa to Arizona that I was smiling just thinking about being back with the boys, and there's a lot of guys back here already, it's just great to be back. We're excited for the year, we all have such great relationships with each other, so it's a great group.
As far as the upcoming season, what excites you the most?
I think just our expectations, we're excited for where this team can go this year and where we expect to be. We're looking to continue to grow on what we did last year, it's exciting. We had some bad luck with injuries, it's important to do your best to take care of your body, and if we have a few less injuries this season it's going to be exciting to see what we can do.
Fighting for a playoff spot up until the second-to-last game in 2018-19, what did you learn from that experience and how is the team looking to build on that?
Being that close makes us realize that that's where we should be. We feel like we improved our roster this offseason, we felt like we could've been in [the playoffs] last year. The difference now is the expectation to make it, and we're looking forward to that.
What is driving your motivation for the coming season?
There's always motivation; you play this game because you love to win, and winning is the ultimate goal. That's always been the reason I've played the game, is loving to win and the feeling you get when you go into battle with your guys. We want to make the playoffs, that's our motivation.
Your goals for the 2019-20 campaign, personal and for the team, what are they?
I don't really focus on personal goals too much. If I had to think of one, it would be just trying to stay healthy and keep my knees in a good place to make sure that I'm in a place to play at 100%. Last year, it was tough, I didn't feel like I was able to play at my top level and it was tough to battle through, so if I can have a year here where I'm just able to play to my best abilities, it'll be nice.