Artyom Levshunov

Blackhawks sign Artyom Levshunov, No. 2 overall pick, to entry-level contract

Details on the deal for the team's new top rookie

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Artyom Levshunov has decided to turn pro after signing his three-year, entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team announced Saturday. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft elected to forgo his sophomore season at Michigan State.

"Signing Artyom gives us the opportunity to continue his development in house and take the next step into professional hockey,” Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said in a statement. “He’s a strong two-way defenseman that has all the tools to be a high-end player in the NHL and we’re excited to continue his growth at the pro level."

The Blackhawks would have been fine either way with whatever Levshunov decided.

"I don’t think there’s a wrong answer," Davidson said on Friday. "Adam Nightengale and the Michigan State staff have a world-class program. So if he were to return to college, he has a really great program, facilities, system he’s going to play in on a good team in a great league. That would be great. 

"If he turns pro, we’ll have hands-on all the time, which is always a huge benefit on our end, to have that 24/7 ability to hit those touch points every day and hone in on the development and the play and the lifestyle of a young player. Whichever way it goes, I believe he’ll be in a great position to take some really positive steps."

Levshunov will show up to training camp in September with a chance to compete for an NHL roster spot, but it's more likely he starts the season with the Rockford IceHogs. He's expected to play the majority of the campaign in the AHL, where he can get acclimated to the grind of a 82-game season, both physically and mentally.

If Levshunov plays in fewer than 10 NHL games next season, his contract will slide and begin in 2025-26. His cap hit is $975,000, which is the maximum for a rookie, although he can earn much more than that in performance bonuses.

Levshunov, 18, had a terrific freshman season at Michigan State, where he put up nine goals and 26 assists for 35 points in 38 games. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.

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