July 15: Three months later and the contract has officially been signed and submitted, according to Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required). The three-year pact will not kick in for the 2019-20 season, instead starting in 2020-21 allowing Mitchell to collect his full signing bonus. CapFriendly tweets out the expected details of the contract (which has still not been announced by the Blackhawks) which will include up to $850K in Schedule A performance bonuses in each season.
April 13: The Chicago Blackhawks have convinced one of their top prospects to finally turn pro. Ian Mitchell has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Blackhawks, foregoing his senior season at the University of Denver. Details of Mitchell’s deal haven’t been announced, as the start date has “yet to be determined.” That likely means that Mitchell’s contract will either begin in the 2019-20 season should it resume at any point, or alternatively 2020-21.
Should the season return this summer and Mitchell signs for 2019-20, he would be immediately eligible to suit up for the Blackhawks. Either way, you can bet he’ll be challenging for a full-time spot on the roster to begin next season.
Now 21, Mitchell has been an absolutely dominating offensive presence during his three seasons at DU. Through 116 games he recorded 18 goals and 89 points, impressive totals for a forward, let alone a defenseman. Those totals may have been even higher had he not left during the 2018-19 season to serve as an alternate captain with Team Canada at the World Juniors, or this season when he was part of the gold medal-winning Spengler Cup team.
That sort of international success is exactly why so many Chicago fans are excited about the premise of Mitchell joining the Blackhawks. Originally selected 57th overall in 2017, he is a natural puck-mover that is more often than not the best skater on the ice. Not only does that skating ability allow him to carry the puck up the ice himself, but his quick weight transfer and lateral movement open passing lanes to teammates that might not otherwise present themselves. It also allows Mitchell to close the gap on defense quickly, though his small stature—5’11” 173-lbs—still leads him to get outmuscled at times.
In all though, the package that Mitchell brings will be well received in Chicago after they lost Erik Gustafsson at the trade deadline and will see Duncan Keith turn 37 in July. He’ll join a group of young defenseman including Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin that have tremendous upside and could turn Chicago’s back end into a puck-moving machine over the next few years.