Chicago Blackhawks agree to a 6-year, $27.6M deal with Alex Vlasic, locking up the young defenseman through 2029-30

Alex Vlasic thrived playing across the ice from Seth Jones in his first full season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Now Vlasic will get the opportunity to play alongside the veteran for the next six seasons.

The 6-foot-6, left-side defenseman agreed to a $27.6 million contract extension that runs through 2029-30 — the same as Jones’.

The last two seasons of Vlasic’s deal — which carries an annual $4.6 million salary-cap hit — contains a modified no-trade clause with a 10-team no-trade list, according to

“I took a lot of big steps and improved my game,” Vlasic, 22, said during end-of-season interviews last week. “I think coming in, I didn’t know what to expect of myself and I think I kind of exceeded my expectations of what this year was going to look like for me and I’m very happy with it.”

Vlasic had been a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, but the Hawks opted to take care of business quickly.

“Alex made enormous strides this year and proved he is a legitimate top-four defenseman in the NHL,” general manager Kyle Davidson said in a statement. “In his first full season in the NHL, Alex established himself as an important piece of our young core, and we’re excited to have him with us for the next six years.”

And at nearly $28 million over the life of the contract, it’s also general manager Kyle Davidson’s largest signing by far since taking over on an interim basis in October 2021. Connor Bedard’s three-year, $13.35 million entry-level deal is the next largest.

Vlasic, a Wilmette native, had said he wanted to stay in Chicago “as long as possible.”

It’s clear that Vlasic joins Bedard as part of the young, long-term nucleus that’s beginning to take shape, along with defenseman Kevin Korchinski, forward Frank Nazar and others.

For a team that finished 23-53-6 — the most losses in franchise history (topping the 1953-54 season’s 12-51-7) — it’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Vlasic took a big jump this season, particularly as a lockdown defender.

According to analytics sites JFresh Hockey and TopDownHockey, Vlasic’s even-strength defense rose to the 94th percentile, his penalty kill to the 90th percentile.

And he was doing it facing top competition (94%).

“He’s played top matchups every game all year, big minutes, he’s playing physical and he moves the puck very well,” coach Luke Richardson said earlier this month. “Now he’s starting to show some of the maturity already on the bench and on the ice, taking charge, talking to the forwards about certain situations and maybe even giving them a little bark down the bench.

“Being in a top pairing role with Seth, I think they really complement each other well. And with their range and with their reach, I think they really defended well. But both of them at times can get up the ice and add into the offense.”

Jones, who play with Vlasic at the IIHF World Championship in Czechia next month, added: “You’ve seen him from early on this year move his feet, defend hard. He’s got a really long stick, so it makes it really tough on defenders. He’s shooting the puck a lot more.”

Vlasic had two goals and 14 assists, and his 16 points was second among Hawks blue liners, a point ahead of Korchinski.

Vlasic admitted his performance surprised even himself.

“A little bit, yeah,” he told the Tribune this month. “I always believed in myself. I knew I could be a good player. I feel like I get more comfortable with repetitions and more games.

“The more games I’ve been playing, I get more confident. I’m able to try new things and see what I’m capable of getting away with and not getting away with. But it’s been a great learning experience. That’s kind of big for me, learning what I can and can’t do out there and continue to push myself.”

Both Vlasic and the Hawks credited last season’s run with the AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs for playing a large role in his development.

During an Oct. 16 win against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, a light turned on for Vlasic that he could play at the NHL level.

“That was kind of a turning point for me in the year pretty early on, I was like: ‘I’m here and I’m pretty good,’ ” he said “I just remember leaving that game and I was like: ‘Damn!’ Like this is the NHL and we won, we beat Toronto and I was playing against Auston Matthews and their top line and we shut them down, and it was a pretty cool feeling to kind of have that success and see it translate.”

Vlasic told the Tribune he didn’t plan to change much about his offseason program, just “work out here, train here with the guys that we have.”

But he and the Hawks want him to bulk up.

“I came in this year 218 (pounds), and I’m 215 right now, so haven’t really lost too much weight which is a good head start for the summer,” he said. “But I want to get to 225. I want to test it out.

“Some guys want to play a little bit lighter, they don’t feel great when they have a lot of muscle mass on, you kind of feel clunky on the ice, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet.”

He might push it to 230 to see if he still feels the same. But that means a lot more eating, something he doesn’t relish.

“Four meals a day, a lot of protein shakes,” Vlasic said. “It’s actually a chore. It’s not fun.

“I remember this past summer, it seems like you step on the scale every day and you never really see the improvements and that’s so frustrating and you’ve got to keep eating, eating, eating all day, but eventually you get there. It’s a good problem to have, I guess.”

And it’s necessary. Hawks assistant coach Kevin Dean said it’s Vlasic’s top priority this summer — plus conditioning.

“His growth is going to be physically,” Dean told the Tribune. “He doesn’t look like he’s filled out yet, and I think he’s going to put on some weight every year here for the next few years.

“It’s incredible where he’s come (from). So now he’s playing against top lines, top minutes. And I think his conditioning is not bad, but it’s not where it needs to go if he wants to play 25 minutes tonight against the top guys, which is where I see him playing someday, because I think he’s that good.”

Vlasic’s 21 minutes, 29 seconds per game ranked second on the Hawks behind Jones’ 25:29.

“I think he’s terrific,” Dean said. “He moves well, he sees the ice, he’s got a great stick. Positionally, he’s solid. Intelligent player. I think he’s going to be one of the best defenseman in the league here down the road.”

If there’s one quibble coaches have with Vlasic, it’s his shooting. According to, Vlasic tied for seventh among league defensemen with four scoring chances on the penalty kill, though that seems conservative.

“I don’t know if there’s anybody in the league who’s had more short-handed breakaways as a defenseman than him,” Richardson said. “He probably gets a little frustrated at himself for not completing at the end.”

Dean added: “His shot can be better. We’re going to be talking about that. He’ll keep working on that.”

No argument from Vlasic.

“That’s something I’ve got to work on this summer,” he said. “But I’ve had a lot of chances this year. I could’ve easily had five or six more goals than I did, so it’s something to be happy about, in a way, and (I) look forward to next year hopefully capitalizing on those chances.”