The defenseman became an unrestricted free agent Aug. 15 after the Blackhawks did not sign him and his draft rights expired. He scored career highs in goals (five), assists (26) and points (31) in 34 games during his senior season at Northeastern. Chicago selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL draft.
Shea 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 to join Chicago’s crowded defensemen pool. The Blackhawks have signed two college defensemen during the summer with Denver’s Ian Mitchell (2017 second-round pick by Chicago) and Wisconsin’s Wyatt Kalynuk (2017 seventh-round pick by Philadelphia).
Chicago has signed three players (forward Graham Knott and defensemen Dennis Gilbert and 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.