Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg sees Ian Mitchell as a special player
By Ryan Fedrau
Former Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg sees his Team Canada teammate Ian Mitchell as a special player with the potential to make an impact in Chicago.
Ian Mitchell signed his entry-level deal with the Chicago Blackhawks around a week ago, so it’s only natural for him to be the talk of the town. In this situation, former Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg believes Mitchell has the potential to make an impact in Chicago.
For starters, Versteeg has played around some great defensemen in his career. He was in Chicago for the rise of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. He also had a chance to play with Nick Leddy, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Johnny Oduya.
All of those players mentioned made an impact on the Blackhawks’ 2010s dynasty.
So, where did Versteeg meet Mitchell? They were teammates during Team Canada’s run for the Spengler Cup. Mitchell was a big part of the run, playing in four games, where he scored a goal and had an assist for two points. Team Canada beat Ocelari Trinec 4-0 to take the trophy.
He was the youngest player on the roster at 20 years old, but he made an impact as a veteran would.
Here’s Versteeg’s story about Mitchell on their first 5-on-3 power play together.
"“It was me, him and a couple of other guys and it was our first 5-on-3 of the tournament and the puck came to (Mitchell),” Versteeg said. “Usually, you’d think a young guy would just pass it off and he took the shot and labeled it top glove and that goal kind of got us going. He was a young guy in a big moment in a big game and he took the shot and took things into his own hands. That’s kind of what you like to see as players.” – Kris Versteeg (NHL.com)"
What it comes down to is how he fits in Chicago. If he plays as well as he did in college and other tournaments, he will find himself a permanent spot on the Blackhawks’ roster. If he doesn’t fit the way the team would like him to, he will spend time in Rockford.
Versteeg believes he can play next year with the team, if not next year, within the next two seasons he will be a staple on the team’s blue line. He sees many attributes to his game, including penalty kill and a great passing ability. He also likes his confidence.
All of this sounds like Duncan Keith to me. Keith is great on both the power play and the penalty kill. He is a confident player who makes a great “first” pass in the offensive zone. Other scouts have compared Mitchell to Keith.
I personally like how the Blackhawks’ defense is getting younger. I don’t like seeing them miss the playoffs, but there’s a plan in place and if we trust the process, only good things will come from it. If Mitchell is the next Duncan Keith, the future is bright.
The younger defensemen have talent. The team just has to make a few moves to even everything out.