A season that feels like a pivotal one for Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Ian Mitchell is not off to a good start.
Just before Thursday’s opening practice of training camp, the team announced that Mitchell is going to be out for six weeks with a left wrist injury. Two other injuries in the team announcement centered on forward prospects, with Colton Dach and Paul Ludwinski both in concussion protocol following last weekend’s prospect showcase.
Mitchell, 23, spent most of last season with the Rockford IceHogs, handling top-pairing minutes for the majority of the season while playing in all situations. He finished with 35 points (11 G, 24 A) in 57 games and appeared to take several steps forward in his overall progress during that time in Rockford.
Breaking camp with the NHL team seemed like the logical next step in Mitchell’s progression, but this injury obviously sets him back and could keep him from seeing hockey action until early November. With so many young blue-line prospects in the system who are younger than Mitchell, this season — which will be the third and final one from Mitchell’s entry-level contract — feels like a potential do-or-die situation for Mitchell. Either he’ll prove he’s ready for more NHL time in Chicago or he may be looking for a different hockey organization come next summer. This injury doesn’t immediately end Mitchell’s hopes, but it certainly doesn’t help.
Two other quick updates from Thursday morning and the first practice of the season.
First, Jake McCabe remains out for a few more months following cervical spine surgery but was on the ice Thurdsay morning:
Jake McCabe is still supposedly 9-11 weeks away from returning from cervical spine surgery (!), but he's on the ice with Group A.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 22, 2022
And here is your first update on forward line combinations:
Top two lines in Group A:— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 22, 2022