The Chicago Blackhawks stockpiled on defense at this year’s draft with five picks, including 18-year-old Ian Mitchell. The undersized blueliner has put together strong back-to-back season in Albert Junior Hockey League to earn a spot next fall at Denver. He’s got as high upside as any blue liner prospect in the organization this side of first-round pick Henri Jokiharju. That’s why he comes in No. 16 on our Top 25 Under 25 rankings.
Birth date: Jan. 18, 1999
Acquired via: 2017 NHL Draft, second round (No. 57)
Most recent stop: Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
Size: 5’11, 173 pounds
Mitchell is part of a rising trend among young promising Canadian defensemen to skip major junior hockey to play college hockey in the U.S.. He was drafted by the Fargo Force of the USHL (2016) and the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL (2014), but opted to play in Canadian Junior A hockey because he decided college hockey was the best route to the NHL for him. He had eight goals and 29 assists last season with the Spruce Grove Saints of the AJHL.
Since Mitchell hasn’t played any major junior hockey there isn’t much publicly known about his game aside from what is seen at the international level. He’s been a fixture on Canada’s blue line the past two years, and netted two goals and five points at the 2016 Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He also had two assists in five games at the U-18 World Junior Championship.
At 5’11 and 173 pounds, Mitchell needs to find ways on the ice to make up for a size disadvantage against bigger players. One way he does that is with his “excellent skating ability,” according to a report from Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports.
Here’s more from Kerr on Mitchell:
One aspect to his game Kerr points out that needs work is his shot. And while that is a concern, being at Denver with a regular workout regime should help him add muscle to generate more power.
What’s next in 2017-18?
Mitchell will play for the reigning national champion Pioneers. Like any college freshman, there will be a learning curve to adjusting to life away from home as well as the rigors of college hockey. Mitchell will join fellow Hawks prospect Blake Hillman at Denver. The defensive pair will look to help Denver repeat as NCAA champions for the fourth time in school history (1960-61, 1968-69, 2004-05).