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The Chicago Blackhawks have signed one of their bright young stars to a long-term contract extension. On Thursday, the Blackhawks announced that defenseman Alex Vlasic signed a six-year, $27.6 million contract.

Vlasic, 22, is a former second-round pick who had a breakout 2023-24 campaign in Chicago. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer, but the team never let it get that far.

No one played more minutes at five-on-five than Vlasic, and only veteran defenseman Seth Jones totaled more overall ice time. In those minutes, Vlasic posted a pair of goals and 14 assists in 76 games, but it was his defensive acumen that earned him a long-term deal.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks had a minus-1 goal differential with Vlasic on the ice at five-on-five, which is tremendous given his age and the fact that the team as a whole finished the season with a goal differential of minus-84.

"Alex made enormous strides this year and proved he is a legitimate top-four defenseman in the NHL," Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said in his 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."

Vlasic is now part of a young core the Blackhawks will try to rebuild around as they try to regain their Cup contender status. Connor Bedard, the 2023 No. 1 overall pick and likely Calder Trophy winner, is at the center of that group. Around him, Chicago already has exciting young players like Vlasic, Kevin Korchinski, Landon Slaggert and Frank Nazar.

The Blackhawks will only add to their prospect pool at the 2024 NHL Draft this summer, and they may have the No. 1 overall pick again, depending on how the draft lottery balls bounce in May.