Second City Hockey’s 2020-21 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2020. The rankings are determined by a composite score from three SCH writers and community member, L_B_R. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.
After a few years of speculation and perhaps a touch of anxiety stemming from the Kevin Hayes situation, Mitchell officially joined the Blackhawks organization in mid-July when he signed an entry-level contract.
Mitchell’s signing came after his junior season at Denver, when he led the team’s defensemen in goals (10), assists (22) and points (32) in 36 games. Mitchell also appeared in four games for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup, helping it win the gold with one goal and one assist.
A few days after Mitchell signed, Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton sounded like he didn’t expect Mitchell to start the next hockey season in the AHL:
“Very excited about him. Obviously, [he’s] a great skater. [He] had a great college career [at the University of Denver] and we expect him to challenge for a spot when we get to training camp next season.”
General manager Stan Bowman offered similar thoughts back in January:
“I was very impressed … He dominated the games I saw at Denver this year. He’s such a good skater, very involved in the play. He does a little bit of everything for [Denver] as their captain. I think it bodes well how he’s going to transition to the NHL. I think his game lines up exactly how we want to play. He’s a fun player to watch.”
Mitchell does join a crowded corps of defensemen in Chicago, but, given the Blackhawks recent public commitment to its younger players, Mitchell would figure to be high on the list of players who’ll get a long look during the upcoming hockey season.
It’d be a fairly big surprise if Mitchell is anywhere other than Chicago when training camp ends and the 2021 hockey season begins — probably bordering on disappointment. Given Mitchell’s age, his steady rise in the organization over the last few years and his overall play, the expectation here is that he plays most — if not all — of the upcoming season with the Blackhawks.