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Artyom Levshunov signs with the Blackhawks

Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After a lot of will-he, won’t-he speculation since the draft, the Blackhawks announced on Saturday evening that they’ve signed the 2024 No. 2 pick, Artyom Levshunov.

The three-year, entry-level contract carries an annual cap hit of $950,000, and contains several signing and performance bonuses. Those bonuses are broken down by PuckPedia below:

Interestingly, Levshunov’s agent Dan Milstein had earlier on Saturday told media that he and his client were having ongoing discussions with Michigan State about the Belarus native potentially returning for his sophomore season. However, the Blackhawks organization had always wanted Levshunov to go pro this season so they could have a more direct input in his development. This was highlighted by GM Kyle Davidson in the statement released with the signing and in comments from assistant GM Mark Eaton just a few days prior:

“Signing Artyom gives us the opportunity to continue his development in-house and take the next step into professional hockey. He’s a strong two-way defenseman that has all the tools to be a high-end player in the NHL and we’re excited to continue his growth at the pro level.”

— Kyle Davidson

The comments from Eaton also hint at where the Blackhawks likely see Levshunov playing a majority of the upcoming season: in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. Although the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defensemen seems physically mature and had an impressive freshman season at Michigan State — he was named the Big Ten’s Newcomer of the Year, Defenseman of the Year and was a First Team All-Big Ten selection — there’s still some development needed before he’s NHL-ready.

Blackhawks director of amateur scouting Mike Doneghey even said they feel Levshunov is “behind the curve,” but in a way that the team feels like they can mold him through his development to be the best player possible.

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