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CBJ Top 25 Under 25: Yegor Chinakhov showed flashes of scoring potential

Let’s got some more good goals next year, yes?

Ottawa Senators v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had almost 100 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. Stay tuned as we enter the home stretch with the top 10 players. Now, 8th-ranked Yegor Chinakhov.

#8 Yegor Chinakhov

Voting

8th out of 40 eligible players
Writer Rank: 8
Reader Rank: 7
Highest placement: 3 (2 votes)
Most common placement: 10 (17 votes)
2021 Rank: 12

Biography

Birthdate: February 1, 2001
Birthplace: Omsk, Russia
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 178 lbs.
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Acquired: Drafted 21st overall (1st round) in the 2020 Entry Draft

2021-22 Season

Chinakhov’s season started well before it even began, with a dominant six goal effort in just three games in the Traverse City prospects tournament. He then made the team out of training camp, but was a healthy scratch in the first weekend. He made his North American pro debut in Cleveland for one game, before returning to Columbus and getting regular playing time. He had a stretch of healthy scratches again in December before injuries gave him the chance to stick for the rest of the back half of the schedule.

For a player advertised as a great shooter, Chinakhov had to wait a month before his first NHL goal. He was scoreless through his first eight games, despite taking 17 shots on goal. That first goal was a beauty, however, and tied a close game:

In the end, Chinakhov had seven goals on 98 shots in 62 games, for a shooting percentage of 7.1%. It’s fewer goals than you would expect from someone of his profile, even as a 20 year old rookie. You would also expect a sniper to have a higher shooting percentage, perhaps something more in the 10% range, if not Patrik Laine’s 15.6, Gus Nyquist’s 14.8, or Oliver Bjorkstrand’s 13.0. Let’s not forget the multiple goals Chinakhov had which were taken off the board due after offsides reviews.

The bad puck luck extended to Chinakhov’s linemates as well. Among the 11CBJ forwards with at least 600 minutes of 5v5 ice time, Chinakhov had the third worst on-ice shooting percentage. He also had the worst on-ice save percentage. This goes a long way towards explaining his -27 rating, which was second worst on the team. There are things he can work on defensively, but expect some positive regression with his defensive numbers, combined with (hopefully) more consistent goaltending.

2022-23 Outlook

It’s a crowded forward lineup at the moment, so once again Chinakhov will have to battle for minutes, if not a spot on the roster at all. You can list the following wings in Sharpie: Laine, Gaudreau, Voracek, Nyquist, Robinson. That leaves three spots up for the taking. At least one will go to a fourth line grinder like Justin Danforth. That leaves at most two spots for a sheltered bottom six winger. Chinakhov’s competition includes countryman Kirill Marchenko and another first round rookie in Kent Johnson. Chinakhov has the most NHL experience, but Marchenko has more pro and international experience, and Johnson carries the pedigree of being a top five pick.

Chinakhov may start the year in Cleveland, and that may not be the worst thing for his game. That would be an environment where he could get way more minutes than he’d get in Columbus, plus a major role on the power play. Facing AHL competition could build up his confidence in his shot, and allow him to refine the weaker points of his game (i.e. defense and physical strength). If there is an injury to the top 9 in Columbus, however, Chinakhov should be the first call to replace.

Highlights

How about clips of all seven goals? I think my favorites are the two against Carolina as part of a 6-0 beatdown on a national broadcast.

Let’s not forget Chinny’s viral kepi speeches. I love how happy his teammates get for him: