With Jakob Chychrun locked in as their first overall selection, the Sarnia Sting have a huge building block for their umpteenth rebuilding plan.
There was little dissent over whether the 6-foot-2 multi-talented defenceman — "a rare combination of size, speed, and strength [whose] greatest asset as a player is his hockey sense" — was the best available player in the Ontario Hockey League priority selection, which begins at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday. The Sting's struggles this season, with word that the franchise is for sale going public amid a year where it tumbled into the league cellar for the third time in nine seasons, led to a minor panic that it might opt for signability over the consensus top player. Fortunately, even luckily for the OHL that element has somewhat waned across the past few springs for a myriad of reasons.
Chychrun and Sarnia coming together leaves the Kitchener Rangers, Ottawa 67's and Belleville Bulls to have first crack at one of the top forwards.
Jakob Chychrun is a two-way defenceman with no glaring weakness. Elite skater, physically ready, booming shot, patience with the puck #Sting
— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) April 4, 2014
With a rebuild clearly in the works in Sarnia, Jakob Chychrun is a great place to start. Will be fun to watch him. #OHL
— Mike Farwell (@farwell_ohl) April 4, 2014
One odd coincidence that might seem like an irony is Chychrun is joining the Sting and will become a teammate of NHL draft prospect Anthony DeAngelo. The coincidence is that DeAngelo got an early start on playing junior by joining the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders as a 15-year-old in 2010-11. Chychrun ended up in the Toronto minor hockey ranks since a rule change barred him from joining the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms. More has probably been made of that than it should, but it's possible that an unintended consequence was that the Florida-born defenceman wasn't rushed or overburdened with expectations like every 'next Bobby Orr' or 'next Paul Coffey.' (Witness current Mississauga Steelheads youngster Sean Day, who did manage to earn a nod on the OHL's all-rookie second team, somehow, ahead of Sault Ste. Marie's Kyle Jenkins, who was a top-four defenceman on a division-winning team.)
Chychrun's game seems to speak for itself. Meantime, the Rangers, after scoring only 195 goals last season, likely need a centre. Ottawa's greatest need is a scoring left wing who can mesh with centres Travis Konecny and Dante Salituro, who are each entering their NHL draft seasons.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.