Nick Mattson, a Chicago Blackhawks 2010 sixth-round draft pick, agreed to terms on an AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday.
Mattson, a defenseman, and Mike Paliotta were the two college seniors in the Blackhawks’ system this past season. Paliotta, who played at Vermont, agreed to a two-year contract with the Blackhawks in March. Mattson, who played at North Dakota, was not offered a contract by the Blackhawks.
In recent years, the Blackhawks have decided not to sign some of their prospects to NHL contracts, instead having the IceHogs offer the prospects AHL contracts. Former Blackhawks prospects Justin Holl and Kirill Gotovets agreed to deals with the IceHogs just this past season.
Mattson said he allowed his agent to deal with all conversations among the Blackhawks and IceHogs. He was simply grateful for an opportunity to play professional hockey.
“I just love playing,” Mattson said by phone Tuesday. “It’s just an opportunity to keep playing. What happens in the future will happen. I’m excited to take that step.”
Mattson had a rough early start to his senior season at North Dakota and was a healthy scratch at times, but he earned his way back into the lineup and finished the season strong. He finished his senior season with four goals and 17 assists and was a plus-10 in 33 games.
“I’m definitely feeling confident right now, and next year, I get a chance to prove myself,” Mattson said. “I’m more excited than anything. I’m going to work hard and hope for the best.”
The IceHogs also recently announced they had signed Gotovets, Dane Walters and Chris DeSousa to new contracts for next season.