Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks got some good news on Saturday when Ian Mitchell signed an entry-level contract with the team.
Who is Ian Mitchell?
A second-round pick (57th overall) out of St. Albert, AB, Mitchell has been a key cog at the University of Denver for the past three years. He has scored 89 points in 116 games for the Pioneers, earning captaincy in his junior season.
He gained praise consistently for his leadership role on a terrific Denver team, helping them to go 68-31-19 in his three years at the program.
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Mitchell has represented Canada at every level of international hockey: the Hlinka Gretzky Cup (U-18), the World Junior Championships (U-20) and the Spengler Cup, winning gold this past winter.
He also comes from a hockey family, with his uncle Roy playing for the Portland Winterhawks, and then in the AHL for six years.
What Does He Bring?
All signs are seeming to point to Mitchell starting next season with the big club in Chicago. The possibilities are interesting of who he could find himself paired with if he does indeed start in the Windy City.
The possibility that comes to mind first would be the potential of pairing with Blackhawks great, Duncan Keith, whom at times Mitchell has been compared to.
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An elite skater, Mitchell brings a significant amount of offense to the table as both a player who can create for himself, and for his teammates.
A quick player on both ends of the ice, Mitchell uses that quickness to close down gaps on the defensive end. He can get muscled off the puck at times, but for the most part, he is capable of playing above his size.
At 5-foot-11, 173 pounds, he’s on the smaller end but Chicago has shown that they can have had plenty of success with smaller defensemen. Most notably Keith, but Adam Boqvist as well.
Continuing the Youth Movement
On the right side of the blue line, the future could be bright with Mitchell creating a trio of young up-and-coming blueliners alongside Boqvist and Connor Murphy.
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He also joins Nicolas Beaudin on the back end, who many fans have high hopes for. Beaudin spent all but one game in Rockford in the AHL honing his craft.
Most of the recent draft picks for the Blackhawks have shown success early. Kirby Dach debuted last year, scoring 23 points in his age-18 season. Dominik Kubalik made a serious statement scoring 30 goals this past season, and Boqvist saw 41 games in the NHL.
The Blackhawks youth movement is finally in full swing, and it seems like things are headed in the right direction for the rebuild.
Comparisons to Keith
Ever since he was drafted by the team in 2017, Mitchell has consistently drawn comparisons to one of the best Blackhawks blueliners in history, Duncan Keith.
Mitchell said recently in a sit down with Blackhawks.com that he idolized the long-time Blackhawk defenseman, but that he hasn’t connected with him quite yet.
“I haven’t actually had a chance to talk to Duncan yet. I hope I will at some point. I’m definitely a big fan of his and have a huge amount of respect for what he’s done as a hockey player and for the organization. He’s definitely an idol of mine.”
If Mitchell comes even close to replicating what Keith has accomplished in his time in Chicago (three Stanley Cups), Blackhawks fans should be ecstatic.
With the team in a state of flux currently, signing a player with the caliber of Mitchell is a great sign. It looks as if things will start to take shape for Chicago over the course of the next three-to-five years.
The main goal? Getting the Blackhawks back to where they were not too long ago: winning Stanley Cups.