Chicago Blackhawks: How real is the Ian Mitchell hype?
By Ryan Fedrau
After a three-year college career, Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect defensemen Ian Mitchell will join the organization for the 2020-21 season. How good can Mitchell be?
Ian Mitchell signed his entry-level deal with the Chicago Blackhawks just over a month ago. He is now signed through the 2022-23 NHL season. This comes as an exciting thing for the Blackhawks fanbase, as Mitchell has been hyped up by the media for the past year.
The question has always been, when will the 21-year old start his NHL career? Well, chances are it’ll be in 2020-21 if things go well for the youngster.
The Blackhawks have a lot of defensemen that are signed to one-way deals. That makes it hard to add the younger defensemen who have two-way deals to the lineup without wasting money just scratching expensive players.
Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook spent a lot of time injured this year, which opened up two spots for younger players. The team saw Adam Boqvist step up, along with multiple other defensemen throughout the season. There’s no guarantee that we will see Mitchell be afforded that same opportunity.
Let’s assume something happens that gives Mitchell the chance to play, the question then becomes, is the hype real? It’s hard to judge an NHL player on if he’s worth the hype or not during his first few seasons, as every player progresses in their own way. Mitchell is 21-years old, playing three college seasons.
He will be expected to produce quicker than others, as he’s had time to grow as a hockey player. If Mitchell spends some time in the AHL, which I expect he will start the season, there’s a good chance he’ll excel there. If he can fix his minor mistakes and become a solid defenseman there, his transition to the NHL should be smooth.
Throughout his college career, Mitchell played in 116 games, where he scored 18 goals with 71 assists for 89 points. He doesn’t bring the same offensive defensemen skill that Boqvist does to the team, as he is more of a stay at home player.
If the Blackhawks match Boqvist and Mitchell together, they’ll have a lot of success together. Those two players having different styles will save Boqvist in over-aggressive situations, while helping Mitchell transition to the speed of the game with a young player like Boqvist.
I believe Mitchell could be the next Duncan Keith. He plays like him, he has the grit to be a top defenseman when he’s finally called up. We’ll know more about his hype as he progresses with the team.