Scott Powers of the Athletic is reporting that the Blackhawks are going to sign Blake Hillman to an entry level contract. Powers ranks Hillman the Blackhawks 11th best prospect in the system. Hillman will forgo his senior year the University of Denver to sign with the Hawks. Hillman was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL draft.
Hillman spent three years at the University of Denver and helped Denver win the National Championship last season. He appeared in 123 games recording 31 points during his NCAA career. Hillman is listed 6’1 and 195 lbs and is a left handed shot from the blue line. He currently projects out as a third pairing NHL defenseman who is effective in the defensive end.
The signing makes sense because the Hawks are need of young defensive prospects. In case you missed it the Hawks defense was awful this season and could use some new blood. In two seasons, the Hawks figure to only have Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and possibly Connor Murphy on their roster from the current defense. That means the Hawks are going to have some spots open.
After signing his ELC, Hillman figures to spend next season with the Rockford Icehogs. The Blackhawks are currently going to bring back their current NHL defense and figures to not have any room for Hillman next season. Hillman will join Darren Raddyish, Luc Snuggerud, Gustav Forsling, and Carol Dahlstrom at Rockford next season.
Bowman has been suring up his defense for next season and beyond as of late. He signed Erik Gustafsson and Jan Rutta to contract extensions-albeit bad ones, recently.
Hillman is third Blackhawks draft pick to be signed this week. The Hawks have already signed number one prospect Dylan Sikura and John Tuulola. Sikura figures to make his NHL debut Thursday in Winnipeg with the Hawks. The Hawks have signed fellow defensive draft pick John Tuuola to an ELC. Tuutola hopes to join the Icehogs soon. Tuutola was a sixth round pick of the Hawks in the 2015 NHL draft. Tuutola recently finished his season with SM-Liga. He was the leading point producer with 30 points in 58 games. Tuutola like Hillman is a left handed shot from the Blue line.
Do not be surprised if Stan Bowman and company are not done signing draft picks and free agents. Bowman is always very active in the European free agent market. I would expect Bowman to add another defensemen via free agency.