CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to a six-year contract with defenseman Alex Vlasic, rewarding one of their best young players with a long-term deal.

The team announced the move on Thursday. The contract runs through the 2029-30 season with a $4.6 million salary-cap hit.

“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 release. “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.”

Chicago went 23-53-6 this year, setting a franchise record for losses. But it is hoping for a turnaround as soon as next season, and the contract for Vlasic stamps the Wilmette, Illinois, native as part of the team’s young core.

The 6-foot-6 Vlasic, who turns 23 in June, had two goals and 14 assists in 76 games this season. He averaged almost 21 1/2 minutes of ice time, ranking second on the team behind fellow defenseman Seth Jones.

Vlasic and Jones are on the U.S. roster for the world championships in Czechia next month.

Vlasic was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2019 draft, and he made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in March 2022. He has three goals and 16 assists in 97 career NHL games.