The Chicago Blackhawks signed prospect Matheson Iacopelli to a two-year entry-level contract that runs through the 2018-19 season Tuesday. Iacopelli will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
ESPN’s John Buccigross first reported the news Monday.
Iacopelli, 22, was selected by the Blackhawks in the third round (No. 83 overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft. An impressive athlete who brings size (6’2, 207 pounds) and a big-time shot to the table, he’s taken a somewhat unusual development path en route to his first NHL contract.
Most players selected in NHL drafts are roughly 18 years old, but Iacopelli was already 20 when the Blackhawks drafted him nearly three years ago. He didn’t make his college debut at Western Michigan University until 2015-16, when he was already able to legally drink in the U.S.
That freshman year at Western Michigan was brutal. The winger recorded just one goal and six assists in 27 games, failing to look remotely like someone who was a top-100 draft prospect. However, he turned it around in a big way this season.
As a sophomore (albeit an unusually old one), Iacopelli found his scoring touch to finish with 20 goals and 16 assists in 40 games. His goals per game average put him 34th in college hockey, tied with top Canucks prospect Brock Boeser, who recently scored a goal in his NHL debut.
Iacopelli isn’t close to that caliber of prospect, but he elevated his game enough over the past year to earn a contract offer. And while his age makes him an unusual case, that didn’t stop the Blackhawks from picking him when he was older than his draft-eligible peers. If he can keep scoring like he did this year at Western Michigan, he’ll be an interesting prospect to watch in Rockford.