‘Hawks talking contract, facing deadline with NCAA standout Paliotta

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Contract negotiations are underway between Chicago and Vermont d-man Mike Paliotta, the ‘Hawks third-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

“We’ve had conversations,” Paliotta’s agent, Jordan Neumann, told ESPN. “I think everything is progressing. We’re listening to everything the Blackhawks say, and Michael and his family are giving signing with the Blackhawks a tremendous amount of thought.”

Paliotta, 21, just wrapped a four-year career at Vermont in style, posting a career-high 36 points while being named to the Hockey East second-team. He’s got good size — 6-foot-4, 205 pounds — and ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman is high on his ability, saying he’d like Paliotta to turn pro right now.

Just one catch, though.

Paliotta hasn’t signed yet and is getting closer and closer to Aug. 15, which is the deadline for Chicago to sign him to an entry-level deal. If this situation sounds familiar, well, it is — Chicago underwent a similar scenario with 2010 first-rounder Kevin Hayes, who played out his four full years at Boston College before passing on signing his ELC with the ‘Hawks. That allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent, at which time Hayes signed with the New York Rangers.

Like Hayes, Paliotta is aware of the depth within the Chicago organization, something that could play a factor in whether or not he signs. Earlier this season, the ‘Hawks jettisoned Adam Clendening to Vancouver — who was taken in the same draft year as Paliotta — because of their logjam of right-handed defensemen prospects (Paliotta is a righty.)

“The Blackhawks are obviously a great organization,” Paliotta said in January, per ESPN. “They have a lot of depth. That’s what makes them successful. They’ve obviously developed a ton of great players.

“Anywhere you go, it’s going to be challenging. You’re going to have to beat out guys.”