Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-24 Season Preview: Yegor Chinakhov

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 04: Yegor Chinakhov #59 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena on December 4, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. Detroit defeated Columbus 4-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 04: Yegor Chinakhov #59 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena on December 4, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. Detroit defeated Columbus 4-2. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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Written off by some as a secondary or even expendable piece; Yegor Chinakhov enters what could be a make-or-break year with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Can he establish himself as a goal scorer in the NHL this season?

RW Yegor Chinakhov

6’0″, 178 pounds

2022-23 stats: 30GP, 4G, 9A, 13Pts, -6, 10PIMs

Acquired: Drafted 1st round (#21 overall), 2020 NHL Draft

Contract: $800k through 2023-24

Role: Bottom-six winger

light. Related Story. 2022-23 Season in Review: Yegor Chinakhov

Yegor Chinakhov’s 2022-23 season was cut short with a high ankle sprain, and it came at probably the worst possible time for him. The Jackets were suffering through a horrible bout of injuries, and Yegor seemed to be coming on strong with more ice time. He was skating well and playing hard on both sides of the puck. More importantly, it felt like he was going to start scoring goals in bunches; you could almost feel them coming.

But the injury derailed what looked like the emergence of his promising upside, forcing him to miss two months of hockey. By the time he returned, the Jackets felt that playing meaningful games with more minutes in the AHL would be better for his development than playing depth minutes on the worst team in the NHL. They were probably correct, and Yegor was solid for the Cleveland Monsters, scoring 3 goals and 8 points in 7 games.

He’ll come to training camp this fall at a crucial turning point in his career. The Jackets are loaded with talent young and old on the wings, but still gave Chinakhov a one-year “show me” deal this summer. It will not be easy to crack this lineup, but he has the size, skating ability, two-way effort, and goal scoring ability that should quickly endear him to new head coach Mike Babcock quickly. We have him penciled in on the team’s third line in our own roster prediction … but if he’s going to stay there, that shooting ability needs to start turning into goals. Otherwise, he’s at risk of being passed up by other players in the system.

Nov 20, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Yegor Chinakhov (59) and Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour (62) in the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Yegor Chinakhov (59) and Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour (62) in the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports /

Three keys to success:

  1. Keep working. The “eye test” was a solid passing grade for me last year. Yegor gave consistent effort on both sides of the puck, even battling along the boards. The new coach will show him where to go, but it’s up to him to keep putting in the effort.
  2. Shoot the puck. I’ve seen his wrist shots clocked over 90MPH, and he’s accurate with them also. Getting those shots away more consistently will almost automatically lead to goals. He needs to improve upon his 1.5 shots per game average from last season.
  3. Stay healthy. This year really does feel crucial to his future with the Blue Jacket organization. If he can stay healthy and play in more than 60 games, I think any doubts will be put to rest. He’s a talented kid, and I still believe he can be a difference maker here.

In the end, a lot needs to go right for Yegor Chinakhov and the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has all of the tools to be a really good middle-six scoring winger for this club, and I think he’s primed for a breakout season. He could be a bit of a secret weapon for this team; Johnny Gaudreau, Patrik Laine, Kent Johnson and Kirill Marchenko will draw a lot of attention, so if Yegor can chip in some secondary scoring, he could be extremely valuable. I’m excited to see what he can do.

Next. CBJ 2023-24 Season Preview: Elvis Merzlikins. dark