Torrey Mitchell got off to a slow start after being acquired by the Habs at the trade deadline but found another gear in the postseason, becoming an important bottom six player for Montreal. Now, GM Marc Bergevin has to decide whether or not to try to re-sign the veteran.
Inside the Numbers
Despite his very low regular season production, Mitchell posted his highest goal and point totals in three years. Part of that is due to playing somewhat sizable minutes with the Sabres since Buffalo was bereft of quality depth forwards all year long. With the Habs, Mitchell was relegated to the fourth line, playing over five minutes less per game than he did prior to the trade.
The playoffs saw Mitchell take on a bit more ice time as a result of him playing his best hockey of the year. He wound up being one of Montreal’s assist leaders in the postseason while he played well enough defensively to take a regular shift no matter what the situation was.
Season Stats: 65 GP, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, -8 rating, 34 PIMS, 55 shots, 49.0% faceoffs
Playoff Stats: 12 GP, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +4 rating, 6 PIMS, 9 shots, 49.6% faceoffs
Argument to keep him
Mitchell gives the Canadiens a much-desired right hand centre, something that they don’t otherwise have on the roster. At 30 years old, he’s much younger than the veteran fourth liners that the Habs tend to bring in via the free agent market or midseason trade and of course, being a local player has to help the cause.
Argument to let him go
He’s undersized for a fourth line role (5’11, 189) and he doesn’t provide much in the way of upside. While he is a right hand shot, he also has been a subpar faceoff guy in his career to the point where before this season, he primarily played the wing which limits his potential as a faceoff specialist. With the team likely to be in a spot where money is going to be at least somewhat tight, would they be better suited going with a cheaper option to free up some extra spending elsewhere?
While he only carried a pro-rated cap hit of $950,000 with Montreal, his actual cap hit and salary were much higher. Mitchell had a full season cap hit of $1.9 million with a salary of $2.5 million. It’s a virtual certainty that both numbers are due to take a drop but how much of a pay cut he’s willing to take will determine whether or not he returns.
With more and more teams trying to save money on the fourth line, it’s hard to see Mitchell getting anything north of $1.5 million and that’s only if someone thinks he can get back to the 20-point range like he did with San Jose.
By all accounts, there’s mutual interest in getting something done. It’s Mitchell who will have to bend the most as the Habs are in no position to overpay for a player who is a lock for the fourth line at best. If he’s looking for the most money possible, he will go elsewhere.
I don’t see Mitchell being all about the money here though. I think he’d be willing to take a bit less than he might like to stay in his home province but I wouldn’t be shocked if he sought a second year to make up for that. At the end of the day, I think something gets done around $1.1 to $1.25 million. I’d like to see it just be a one year deal but I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets two.