Ian Mitchell, D (Canada) – 2017 57th overall pick
The 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Denver has been nothing short of fantastic this year after a fantastic rookie campaign. Ian Mitchell recorded 30 points (2 G, 28 A) as a freshman. He’s on pace for about the same amount of points this season.
His skating aides him in closing gaps, forcing the opposition to dump and chase or creating turnovers with his stick. His stocky frame allows him to position himself so he can block guys from the puck. His compete level is high in all situations and he isn’t afraid to jump to loose pucks in any zone of the ice to create opportunities on the rush.
It seems that he’s flown a bit under the radar in terms of development, despite being one of the most improved prospects in Chicago’s system. Mitchell was named an alternate captain for Canada and will most likely be on the top pair with New Jersey’s Ty Smith after missing out on last year’s World Junior Championship. He’s a clear leader for Canada this time around.
Even though he’s probably a year or two out from being ready to vie for a spot on the team, Blackhawks fans should be incredibly excited about this guy. There’s not a lot of downside with Mitchell and the skillset to possibly mature into an elite defenseman. He’ll be extremely fun to watch on Team Canada, who is always a favorite to win the gold medal.
MacKenzie Entwistle, RW (Canada) – 2017 69th overall via Arizona
Entwistle is the second Chicago Blackhawks prospect named to Canada for the first time. The winger is having a good season as the captain of the Hamilton Bulldogs with 27 points (15 G, 12 A) in 29 games.
The 19-year-old is a sturdy two-way forward with more defensive upside than most. He’s a solid penalty killer with great hockey sense, allowing him to anticipate plays ahead of time and make decisions with ease. He positions himself very well and uses his size to check players to eliminate their possession.
His offensive production has greatly improved from his first two seasons in the OHL. Entwistle has good hands and size to plant himself in front of the net to score goals. He works hard all the time and his drive to always be effective no matter what zone of the ice he’s playing in stands out.
At the 2017 U18 World Junior Championship, Entwistle recorded four goals and three assists in five games with Canada. He could be a productive fourth-liner this time around with heavy minutes on the penalty kill. However, he could show the improvements in his offensive game slotting on the wing of Colorado’s Shane Bowers, a standout center at Boston University. It could be a breakout tournament for this Blackhawks prospect.