‘Yotes Notes: Jakob Chychrun ready to take the ice, on track for training camp
It has been three weeks since Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun posted one of those rehab videos on Twitter that prove he is part machine.
What the cameras haven’t told us recently, Coyotes general manager John Chayka did on Thursday.
“He’s slated to get back on the ice shortly,” Chayka said. “He’s just one of those guys who just recovers on his own schedule.”
It has been 12 weeks since Chychrun had knee surgery to repair an unspecified injury he suffered late in the first period of a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on April 3. Flames forward Michael Frolik tripped Chychrun from behind and he fell awkwardly into the boards behind the Coyotes net.
Chychrun, who also suffered a major knee injury while training last offseason that sidelined him for the first 29 games of the 2017-18 season, had four goals and 10 assists in 50 games. He averaged 20:15 of ice time in his second NHL season.
Chychrun may wait until he returns to Arizona in early August to begin skating under team supervision, but he is on track to be ready for camp, something Chayka said would be the case in exit interviews in early April.
“Obviously, you’re always going to err on the side of caution,” Chayka said. “We’ll see how he progresses. There’s a difference between rehab skating and normal skating.”
As for the other injured Coyotes players:
— Defenseman Jason Demers’ left hand has fully healed after he had a blood clot removed from it, sidelining him for the final 10 games of the season.
“It was probably a month and a half where I had pain my hand,” he said after the season. “At first I thought my wrist was sprained and then they thought I had broken a bone in my hand.” An MRI revealed the clot.
— Defenseman Kevin Connauton suffered a head injury that sidelined him for the final game of the season, but he said it has completely healed and he is fine. Connauton signed a two-year, $2.75 million contract with the Coyotes on June 27, four days before he could have become an unrestricted free agent.
— Chayka said center Derek Stepan (foot), defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (core injury) and center Christian Dvorak (back) are healed. Stepan played the final 15 games with a fracture in his right foot that occurred March 10 at Colorado. Hjalmarsson played his last game on March 22 at Carolina. Dvorak played his last game on March 29 at Los Angeles.
Forward Nick Merkley (knee) is progressing well and is scheduled to get back on the ice soon. Center Laurent Dauphin (knee) suffered a setback in his rehab. His timeline is murky, but it does not appear he will be ready for training camp.
FORMER COYOTES FIND NEW HOMES
A few former Coyotes found new homes in the first three days of free agency.
Defenseman Luke Schenn signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Anaheim Ducks on July 1. Forward Zac Rinaldo signed a one-year, $650,000 contract with the Nashville Predators on July 1. Forward Tobias Rieder signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers, the team that drafted him in 2011.
As of Thursday morning, unrestricted free agent Anthony Duclair had not chosen a team, though he was weighing multiple offers.
Tucson Roadrunners general manager Steve Sullivan hired Jay Varady as their new head coach on Monday, replacing Mike Van Ryn, who accepted an assistant coaching position with the St. Louis Blues. Varady led the Kingston Frontenacs to a record of 36-23-6-3 in his first season (2017-18) as the team’s head coach. The Frontenacs lost to the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs in the Eastern Conference championship.
Prior to joining Kingston, Varady served four seasons (2013-2017) as the head coach of the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL, posting a 136-88-0-16 record. Varady led the Musketeers to the postseason in three of his four seasons.
Before joining Sioux City, Varady coached two seasons (2011-13) with Ducs d’Angers in France due to his connections and friendship with former NHL player and coach Kevin Constantine, who coached Ducs d’Angers in the 2010-11 season. Varady joined Angers after seven years with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League where he was an associate coach for three seasons (2007-2010) and an assistant coach for four seasons (2003-2007).
“I supported Steve in the hire so I was part of the interview process when it got down to final interviews,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. “Jay is a unique hockey mind. He comes from a bit of a different background and has a lot of different experiences that are really intriguing to us. We’re excited about the opportunity to learn some things from Jay. He’s got some different ideas and different concepts.”
— The Coyotes agreed to a one-year, $700,000 contract with minor-league defenseman Dakota Mermis on Tuesday. Mermis was the only restricted free agent in the Coyotes system who was eligible for arbitration. Chayka said Tuesday that the team was still working through contract negotiations with the team’s other RFAs: forwards Dauphin, Hudson Fasching, Michael Bunting, defenseman Trevor Murphy and goalie Marek Langhamer.
— Lost in the shuffle of free agency was the fact that the Coyotes re-signed defenseman Kevin Ekman-Larsson, Oliver’s brother, to a one-year AHL contract on June 29.
“He came over as (a) first-year North American pro and he did some good things,” Chayka said. “In the American League, you have to have good depth, guys who can step in and play because of all the recalls. He’s got the right game. He’s mobile and moves the puck well. Last year, he was more of a depth player in the AHL, in and out of the lineup. We’ll see if he can take that next step. He’ll keep progressing and he needs to get bigger and stronger, but the brain and the playmaking skills are there.”