Jakob Chychrun, an A rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's September players to watch list for the 2016 NHL Draft, is in his second season with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound defenseman has one goal and four points in five games. Last season as a rookie he had 16 goals and 33 points in 42 games. Born in Boca Raton, Fla., Chychrun is the son of former NHL player Jeff Chychrun, who spent eight seasons in the NHL. He has offered to maintain a blog for NHL.com leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft. His initial post comes prior to three games in three days this weekend, against Hamilton on Friday, Flint on Saturday and Sudbury on Sunday.
I'm so excited to have the opportunity to submit a player blog this season leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft.
Coming into this year it's tough not to think about the draft. But you do everything you can to treat it like it's another year. Aside from that you do set personal goals, and for me I think one of the big things is I'd like to contend for is OHL Defenseman of the Year. I was very happy the new coaches named me part of the new leadership group, making me an assistant captain because that's always meant a lot to me. I really take pride in being a leader on and off the ice.
I think it's a very exciting year for our organization. We were young last year but have gained more experience coming into this year. We just got Pavel Zacha back and there's a good buzz in the rink right now so we're excited. The biggest goal is to see how far we can take it.
It's been great having Derian Hatcher as a coach. He was a captain of his NHL team when they won the Stanley Cup and you can see why. When he's at the rink it's all business and I like that about him. It's an open-door policy and we have good communication, especially on the ice. He's always taking our defense group aside and just giving tips whenever he can and that goes a long way. For me personally, any advice like that you know he's telling you because he's been to the highest level. And when you hear him it's something you always remember. I appreciate everything he's done for me so far and looking forward to having the whole year to work with him.
My teammates and I do a lot of stuff in the community and off the ice and it's great that the team does that. It means a lot to me personally. At school this year I'm taking a PEOPEL program class. That stands for Physical Education Opportunity Program for the Exceptional Learner. I have a buddy at school, Garrett, who has Down's syndrome and a form of autism, and I work with him every day. I'm with him during his gym period and I love doing that kind of stuff. We'll go into the gym and some days we'll lift weights, some days play hoops or soccer or even hockey, and it's great.
My dad obviously played such a big part of my life when it comes to hockey. One of biggest things he said when I played for one of the teams he coaches was, "The only thing you can control is how hard you work." I couldn't even tell you how many times he said before a game that you can't control if you had a bad day at school or a bad day at practice. But you can control showing up at the rink and giving it your hardest every day. I had a good work ethic and that's definitely something I take pride in. Ever since I was 10 years old I always knew I wanted to be a hockey player. I put countless hours into it and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I love what I do and I'm really thankful for those lessons that my dad taught me.
Finally, I'm excited for this season. Our coaching staff is respected throughout our room and since they've been here it's been a great change. You can sense it in our team. We've been performing really well lately and it's at a time in the year when teams usually struggle to get to know each other. We had a couple of unlucky bounces here and there which led to a couple of losses and that happens. Last year we struggled a bit on defense. But this year, with the addition of Joshua Jacobs, we should have eight defenders playing in this league consistently and battling for spots. Defense is one of the strongest elements to our team. That'll be a good change to just roll six guys each game, and with Zacha back our forward group is looking really good as well.
I think our goalie, Justin Fazio, is underrated for a young kid and he'll be great for us. The coaching staff is hoping he can really take up a strong starting role and carry us. We're expecting to at least make it the Western Conference Final this year. That's our goal, but we also think the sky's the limit for us as a group.
That's it for now. I'll blog again next month.
Follow Jakob Chychrun on Twitter at: @j_chychrun7