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Ian Mitchell getting shot on Denver’s power play as a freshman

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The Blackhawks prospect is exceeding expectations as an 18-year-old.

NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Denver vs Minnesota-Duluth Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to Blackhawks prospects in college hockey, a certain Northeastern forward gets most of the attention nowadays for good reason. But over in Denver, defenseman Ian Mitchell has turned heads during his freshman season with the Pioneers.

Mitchell, the Hawks’ 2017 second-round pick, is already emerging as one of Denver’s top blue liners as an 18-year-old. He’s logging minutes as the point man on the power play — a role previously filled by Hobey Baker winner and current Devils defenseman Will Butcher — and surpassing what the Pioneers’ coaching staff expected of him.

“His instincts are really, really good and what he’s done already has surpassed where we expected him to be at right now,” DU coach Jim Montgomery said, via the Denver Post. “In the first couple games he just wanted to pass the puck to the other guys on the power play. And why wouldn’t you want to just pass the puck to Terry, Borgstrom, or Gambrell? But now he’s playing with them.”

Mitchell doesn’t have a goal yet, but he’s recorded four assists in six games. Playing with other top prospects like Troy Terry, Cale Makar, and Henrik Borgstrom helps, but it’s apparent that Mitchell is living up to the hype so far. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman also recently praised his play in Denver so far.

It may take a couple years before Mitchell is ready to make an impact in the NHL, but that timetable could change if he continues to exceed expectations. Between Mitchell and Henri Jokiharju, who has 15 points in 14 WHL games this season, the Blackhawks appear to have added some nice defenseman prospects to the organization.