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Kenneth Ferguson The Hockey Writers

Published on Thursday, August 6, 2015





Mitchell is a Key Depth Piece for the Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche center John Mitchell finished last season eighth on the team in points with 26, despite only playing in 68 games.

Mitchell signed with the Avalanche as a free agent back in 2012 on the same day the Avalanche signed P.A. Parenteau. Parenteau was brought in to play along Matt Duchene like he had done with John Tavares for the Islanders and that was the biggest name the Avalanche signed that day. At the time the Mitchell signing seemed like just a depth signing that was a low risk potential high reward for the Avalanche.

Now after three seasons Mitchell is still playing in Denver while the Avalanche have moved on from Parenteau. Since the Avalanche named Patrick Roy head coach Mitchell has been a key depth player for the organization being played in all scenarios. The most noticeable downside to Mitchell as a member of the Avalanche is the number of game she has played in compared to the number of games the team has played.

Over the past two full seasons Mitchell has only played in 143 of a possible 171.  The biggest games Mitchell missed were the seven games against the Minnesota Wild in the 2013-2014 first round playoff series loss for the Avalanche. Despite being a third line player the Avalanche just looked different without Mitchell in the lineup and then rookie coach Roy could not seem to find a replacement for the key piece he had leaned during the regular season.

Top Ten in Points

Despite playing in only 68 games last season Mitchell still finished eighth on the team in points. When you look at the Avalanche’s top point producers the top six all had over 50 points. Seventh overall in points was Nathan MacKinnon with 38 and then Mitchell with 26.

(Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

(Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsMitchell with 26.

That means that there was a 26 point difference from the sixth overall point getter on the roster and the eighth. The depth of the Avalanche has been questioned a little bit over the past couple seasons given the big names that make up the top two lines. Mitchell is one guy the Avalanche lean on heavily to be that depth kind of player that can be plugged into the lineup everywhere from the second line to the fourth line.  Mitchell even serves time on eth power play and the penalty kill.

Had Mitchell remained healthy for all 82 games this past season it is a safe bet he would have finished the season as a 30 point scorer. In a league that is becoming harder to score in a 30 point season is nothing to laugh at especially when it is coming from a depth guy that is not a normal feature on the top two lines.

Despite his point production last season Mitchell did finish the year with a plus/minus rating of -9. Now in a season where the Avalanche did not make the playoffs most of the players on the roster were minus players so take that as you will. Also, Mitchell was healthy in the early part of the season where the Avalanche did not play well at all and found themselves behind early and often.

Mitchell’s Broken Face

In his first season with the team Mitchell showed what kind of player he is when he scored a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was not just any goal however. This goal came in the second period of a game that Mitchell took a puck to the face right after a faceoff in the first period.

Mitchell would score the goal while his forehead was covered in bandages over a batch of stitches but the excitement of the goal was clear. For the days and weeks that followed that game, Mitchell played with a bruised face that any hockey player would be envious of.

There is no question that Mitchell is a key piece to what the Avalanche have built and they will need him moving forward. Mitchell is currently under contract through the 2016-2017 season and is sure to get plenty of playing time if he remains healthy. The Avalanche have a lot of players fighting for roster spots this year and really if Mitchell does not make the lineup his previous play would suggest he will only have himself to blame.


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