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Blackhawks sign top defenseman prospect Ian Mitchell to 3-year entry-level contract

The contract will begin when the NHL resumes play.

2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championships - Semifinals Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

The Blackhawks signed top defenseman prospect Ian Mitchell to a three-year entry-level contract Monday.

The start date and average annual value of his contract have yet to be determined due to the NHL’s current pause due to the coronavirus.

Mitchell, a second-round selection (No. 57 overall) in the 2017 draft, is the third player from Chicago’s nine-player 2017 draft class to sign or agree to terms with the team in the past week. Right wing Andrei Altybarmakyan and center Evan Barratt signed for two and three years, respectively, on April 2.

The Blackhawks tried to sign Mitchell, a right-handed shot, in 2019 after his sophomore season at the University of Denver ended with a 4-3 overtime loss to UMass in an NCAA Frozen Four semifinal. But Mitchell turned it down and returned to Denver to try to win a national championship, which caused portions of Chicago’s fanbase to irrationally fear he would never sign with the team like Kevin Hayes did in 2014 despite Mitchell continually saying he would sign.

Mitchell had 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 36 games during his junior season before the NCAA canceled winter national tournaments in mid-March with the Pioneers projected to be a contender once again. The undersized defenseman (5-foot-11, 179 pounds) also had two points (one goal, one assist) in four games to help the Canadian national team win the Spengler Cup in December in Davos, Switzerland.

“He’s such a good skater, very involved in the play,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in January of Mitchell. “He does a little bit of everything for that team 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.”

The Blackhawks will likely give Mitchell an opportunity to make the team out of training camp for the 2020-21 season, but there’s a logjam among right-handed shots on the blue line. Adam Boqvist and Connor Murphy will claim two spots and 34-year-old veteran Brent Seabrook is expected to be ready by training camp after having season-ending surgeries on his right shoulder and both hips.