Within the next few days, the Chicago Blackhawks are expected to begin negotiations with University of Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell and Penn State forward Evan Barratt, both juniors, on signing with the team on entry-level contracts, according to The Athletic’s Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus.
Early reports suggest both players have shown little interest in returning to their collegiate teams for their senior seasons.
Both players had their college seasons cut short due to the NCAA cancelling all winter championships on Thursday due to the coronavirus outbreak. It was assumed Mitchell and Barratt would have the first year of their entry-level deal burned if their college seasons ended before the Blackhawks’ season was over.
That could conceivably still happen and a player doesn’t have to play an NHL game to burn the first year of his contract. They just need to be on an active roster.
Regardless, Mitchell, 21, could be a key addition to a Blackhawks team that needs help on defense, whether that is this season or next. Chicago was hoping to bring Mitchell in after his sophomore year at Denver but he wanted to return to his team in hopes of challenging for a collegiate championship as well as the Hobey Baker award.
Mitchell was dominant this season with Denver, posting 10 goals and 32 points in 36 games as well as playing at the Spengler Cup for Team Canada, where he posted a goal and two points in four games.
Barratt is another surprise for the Blackhawks, who drafted him in the third round of 2017. Barratt is more likely to find himself starting his pro career in the AHL. He had a dominant sophomore season in 2018-19, posting 16 goals and 43 points in 32 games, but saw a minor drop in his production this season (12 goals, 34 points in 34 games). Regardless, he adds another talented prospect into the team’s cupboard.
Of course, with the NHL stoppage, both players and the team have plenty of time to work out a deal.
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