23. Jonathan Tychonick (Reader Rank: 26, Last Year: 12)
A year ago, Senators fans were excited for two recently drafted defencemen who were heading together to North Dakota: Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonathan (or Jonny?) Tychonick. The two were childhood friends, and had committed to play college together. One shot left, the other shot right. Jonny T was the skilled, offensive one, while JBD was the stay-at-home big one. The former is a joker in the spotlight, while the latter routinely gives one-word answers to questions.
Fast forward a year, and we may have found some separation between the two. Now, it would be silly to look at one year of college hockey as an 18-year-old and make a full pro hockey career judgment. Still, the first year went much better for one than the other. JBD found his way into 36 of the Fighting Hawks’ 37 games, and even put up 17 points, not bad for a defensive defenceman. Tychonick, meanwhile, had to fight for his place in the lineup, but eventually found his way into 28 games. In those games though, he put up no goals and four assists. Also interestingly, JT took seven minor penalties compared to JBD’s three, even though Bernard-Docker found his way into eight more games and generally played higher up the lineup. All in all, it seemed like a frustrating rookie season for Tychonick.
It’s important to remember the strengths that made Tychonick so appealing as a prospect last year: his speed and his hockey IQ. He was a defenceman who was generally unafraid to join the rush, could make up for his risks with his quick skating, and who was always looking for a way to push the offence forward. It was probably an adjustment for him to suddenly start doing that at the college level with players much older than him. Also, on the small end for a defenceman (6’0”, 176 lbs), it was likely harder for him to make an impact with UND right away. Bernard-Docker was 10 lbs heavier, and played a game that was a little more suited to a top pairing. You may notice that very few teams play offensive-minded defencemen on their bottom pairings.
The other thing that keeps coming up in these rankings is the depth the Sens have. Since last season, the Sens have acquired Erik Brannstrom as a left defenceman, and Maxime Lajoie had a surprising stint with the big club. For Tychonick to make the big club in a couple years, he’s facing competition down the left side from Thomas Chabot, Christian Wolanin, Brannstrom, and Lajoie as players who will still be in their primes. That’s a lot of players to leapfrog. It means that Tychonick’s tumbling down our rankings is less a product of him getting worse, and more a product of other players showing up and getting better.
He’s just 19, and we knew he was going to be a project even when the Sens drafted him. As Ary reminded us on Monday, Tychonick was on the Sens’ Development Camp-winning 3-on-3 squad. I think most of us soured on Tychonick early last season, when he didn’t make UND’s opening night roster, and then stopped paying attention when he started getting into games later in the season because we were focused on the NHL season. He still has the tools to be a very good player. A good sophomore season would probably see him work his way up these rankings again. But two bad seasons in a row is hard to shake, and so the pressure on Tychonick going into this season is going to be high.