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Ryan Shea won’t sign with Blackhawks, will pursue free agency

The Northeastern defenseman scored a career-high 31 points in 34 games.

2020 Beanpot Tournament - Championship Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Blackhawks defenseman prospect Ryan Shea will not sign with Chicago and instead wait until Aug. 15 to become a free agent, according to Mark Divver of Rinkside Rhode Island.

Shea, a fourth-round selection in the 2015 NHL draft, scored career highs in goals (5), assists (26) and points (31) in 34 games during his senior season at Northeastern. Shea, who moved from forward to defense prior to his college days, is a smooth-skating blue liner who can move the puck out the defensive zone with clean passes. His weaknesses are not having a hard shot and not being a physical defender despite his size (6-foot-1, 176 pounds).

After his junior season, Shea likely wasn’t in the Blackhawks plans but after a strong senior campaign there was a belief he could sign an AHL contract or even an NHL deal and join Chicago’s crowded defensemen pool.

The Blackhawks have signed three players (forward Graham Knott and defensemen Dennis Gilbert, Joni Tuulola) from their seven-player 2015 draft class. Knott, a second-round pick (No. 54), never played a NHL game for Chicago before he was traded this past November to Pittsburgh for Joseph Cramarossa. Gilbert has one more year left on his entry-level contract, and Tuulola is a pending restricted free agent.

Chicago elected not to sign forwards Radovan Bondra, fifth rounder, and John Dahlstrom, seventh rounder, before their draft rights expired June 1, 2019. Forward Roy Radke, sixth rounder, left North America to play in Finland after having shoulder surgery in 2017 when his OHL career ended.