Soon after a report surfaced that Luke Martin was unlikely to sign with the Carolina Hurricanes, news that another top collegiate defenseman will test free agency has popped up. According to Rinkside Rhode Islander reporter Mark Divver, Ryan Shea will not sign with the Chicago Blackhawks and instead will become an unrestricted free agent later this summer. Shea recently completed his senior season at Northeastern University, where he served as captain.
Unlike Martin, whose game almost entirely revolves around his defensive play, Shea has blossomed offensively over the years at Northeastern and recorded 31 points in 34 games this season. The left-handed defenseman was a fourth-round pick of the Blackhawks back in 2015 but played a year in the USHL before heading to college. He can become an unrestricted free agent after August 15th—though that date may change depending on how the league ends up scheduling the coronavirus-delayed offseason.
Chicago announced four signings earlier today, including Evan Barratt, one of their more highly-touted college prospects, but Shea shouldn’t be completely overlooked. The 23-year old has improved his skating and defensive play every year and was relied on in all situations by the Huskies.
Earlier this year, Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required) spoke to Shea and asked him if he felt any loyalty to the Blackhawks organization. At that point, the young defenseman told Powers that his relationship with Blackhawks director of player development Mark Eaton was “very strong” and that Chicago felt like the right spot by “all indications.” Obviously, things haven’t gone exactly according to that plan.