The Chicago Blackhawks have signed another prospect, inking OHL defenseman Ethan Del Mastro to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal will carry an NHL cap hit of $878,333. Del Mastro currently plays for the Mississauga Steelheads, where he will finish the season.
Selected 105th overall in 2021, the big, physical defenseman has taken his game to an entirely new level this season. Del Mastro is a prime example of how unclear the scouting community was on the upside of some mid-round players after he missed the entire 2020-21 season due to the COVID-canceled OHL campaign. That makes his stat page look a little odd, as Del Mastro had just seven points at the OHL level before exploding with 48 in 68 games this season.
Notably though, it’s not even really his offensive upside that is so intriguing. Not often do you find a defenseman that is both this big and this mobile, as Del Mastro is an excellent skater that can smother opponents quickly on the rush and punish them in the corners or in front of his own net. There’s a reason why the Steelheads made him captain, and at least some of that is because of his willingness to drop the gloves to protect his teammates.
While there is still obviously a lot of work to do before he is making an impact at the NHL level, this is exactly the kind of defenseman that has become so sought after in recent years, as teams put huge importance on length and mobility in the postseason. An entry-level contract is a nice first step, but the Blackhawks will now need to find a way to develop Del Mastro into the best version of himself.