Ever since the Blackhawks selected defenseman Ian Mitchell at No. 57 overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, Hawks fans have been chomping at the bit to get him in Chicago.
Now, they'll only have to wait until the start of next season, when the St. Albert, Alberta native's contract kicks in.
Mitchell, who spent his last three seasons at the University of Denver, won't be joining the team at summer camp or in Edmonton. He'd burn a year of his contract if he participated in camp and he's ineligible to play in the postseason tournament as players that signed during the pause were ruled out in the NHL and NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement extension.
The 21-year-old signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Chicago on July 16 after agreeing to sign with the Hawks in April. He'll carry a $925,000 cap hit and will likely get plugged into the lineup right away.
On Wednesday, the newly-signed Blackhawks D-man spoke with Hawks media for the first time since his contract was made official.
Mitchell brought up a certain Blackhawks two-time Norris trophy winner and three-time Stanley Cup champ when asked who he's tried to model his game after.
"I guess growing up I always loved watching Duncan Keith and Tyson Barrie," the blueliner said. "Those were two players I tried to be like and tried to emulate my game after. Getting to hopefully meet Duncan soon would be definitely something pretty cool for me. I’m going to probably be a bit starstruck. To have the opportunity to hopefully maybe play with him would be really, really cool. Since we’re both good skaters I think we could definitely complement each other in that way."
Ian watched the Blackhawks' golden age begin as a youngster and he couldn't help but notice the way Keith played the game when the stakes were high.
"I think just growing up I was just a big fan of hockey. Them becoming a good team at that time, you just paid more attention in the playoffs when they’re winning series and they’re an exciting team to watch," Mitchell said. "You wanted to tune in when they were playing. Then just watching Duncan Keith, especially in the playoff time, when he logged almost 30 minutes a night and had his teeth knocked out and came back five minutes later. As a hockey player, that’s pretty much as cool as it gets. You become a fan through that. Growing up that was definitely a team you kept your eye on, for sure."