Stay or go: John Mitchell

Over the next few weeks leading into free agency, we will be looking at the Rangers UFAs and RFAs and analyzing their contribution to the team, potential asking price, and potential future with the Rangers organization. In typical BSB fashion, we like to kick things off with the player that brings up the most debate in regards to keeping him. That player, of course is John Mitchell.

Mitchell was acquired by the Rangers last year at the trade deadline from Toronto in exchange for a 7th round draft pick. After re-signing with the Rangers organization over the summer, Mitchell was called up (along with Carl Hagelin) in November and made an immediate impact. In March we classified this roster move (the dual call ups) as one of the major turning points of the season. Mitchell immediately bought into the Rangers style of play, and was a direct impact in the Rangers ability to maintain puck possession.

Without rehashing the turning point post, Mitchell’s RCorsi to finish out the year was a whopping 11.1, tops on the team. Yes, his numbers were even better than Mr. Hagelin (10.3). As a fourth liner, Mitchell generally didn’t face top competition (-.080 QoC), but he started less than half of his shifts in the offensive zone, and finished more than half of his shifts in the offensive zone. Puck possession has a lot to do with zone starts and finishes, and it is clear that this is an area Mitchell excels at.

Mitchell’s expiring contract was a one-year, two-way deal that paid Mitchell $650k in the NHL and $105k in the AHL.  It’s safe to assume Mitchell will be looking for a one-way* deal to guarantee some financial security.

*-Remember, two-way deals only dictate the salary paid at the different levels. These contracts have no bearing on waivers at all.

The one-way deal for Mitchell isn’t going to be a deal breaker for this organization. However length and value of the contract will be. If you remember, Mitchell was a healthy scratch from the lineup when Brandon Dubinsky returned from injury in the playoffs. While many may not agree with scratching him, it speaks volumes of where he is on the depth chart, and how much he is worth.

Considering Mitchell’s status as a depth forward for this club, the Rangers may not want to give him more than a two year deal at a 10-15 percent raise. That puts a final number on Mitchell at two years, $725k per season ($1.45 million total). He deserves the raise, but he doesn’t deserve an astronomical raise.

However there is a problem for Mitchell: The Rangers already have 10 forwards under contract, and it’s assumed Brandon Prust will re-sign, making it 11 total forwards. That doesn’t leave much room for Mitchell, especially if the Rangers decide to sign more than one forward during free agency. Mitchell’s future with this club is as a depth forward, maybe rotating in and out of the lineup with Mike Rupp. Barring some roster moves, Mitchell may wind up getting squeezed out.

I would like to see Mitchell brought back as someone who can provide depth and matchup options for the Rangers on the fourth line. Players like Mitchell are almost necessities for these matchup purposes. It’s not like he’s a liability either.

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    • mobility isnt really his problem on scoring but it never hurts to develop a more powerful stride. but as you can see from her three students last summer boyle, prust, and WoWo the underhill training camp is not a magic bullet for scoring touch

  • Think the NYR will pass on Mitchell in order to see what other options there are. His playoff performance had too many ghost appearances,

    In this case Torts made the effort to see what would get Mitchell going but the lack of response from Mitchell sends him away

  • Don’t want Mitchell unless he is the 13th forward. We have too many blah forwards who can’t score already. Learn from the Devs, who had scoring throughout their lineup.

  • With injuries, a 13th forward is really useful — I think Mitchell will serve in that capacity very well and should be resigned. Not at excessive cost though.
    I believe you are wrong about waivers, Dave. Whether or not a player has to pass through reentry waivers depends on AHL salary — and losing a player on reentry waivers has a lasting salary cap effect. So reentry isn’t done without confidence. Tim Kennedy insisted on a one way contract with the Rangers. Once sent down, he was gone for good as lesser forwards got called up.

    • Whether a player is eligible for waivers has nothing to do with contract and all about age and games played.

      • Please check your rules. The waiver rules for sending a player down to the AHL are completely different than the waiver rules for recall. The former are indeed about age and experience. The latter however are tied exclusively to minor league salary. There is a magic number – maybe $550,000 (not sure) above which a player must clear reentry waivers. Players on two way contracts never make this much in the AHL.

  • Mitchell is a keeper and represents one of Sather’s sleeper acquisitions.Mitchell and Hagelin have incredible chemistry together. No doubt since they played on the same line with the Whale. Their chemistry was so good that Torts (in his never to be questioned wisdom, of course)decided toplay hagelin with top-liners. he never re-united the pair again…a huge mistake. At he very leat he could have double-shifted Hags with Mitchell. Ahhhh, do i have to be right so often (LOL)

    • I agreed with you right up until you said double shift. When do you see people double shift on a regular basis in the nhl?

    • Fully Agree. Keep Mitchell, pay him his money! Don’t forget the Rangers turn around took place after the Mitchell Hagelin pair came aboard. Mitchell was ENERGY line all season, and he controls the puck keeping it from opposing teams offenses. If the Rangers don’t sign him, other teams will want him. When he was a healthy scratch the final two Rangers games… they LOST!

  • Chemistry? Maybe, but they do not score. I say Mitchell goes. It is okay to eep a few grinders who do not score, but the Rangers have too many. If Mitchell stays, then another of his type has to go.

    • They did score… most of Mitchell’s points came early after his call up while playing with Hagelin and Boyle. Mitchell is one of those players that i can see turning into a good two way checking center… never more than 10-12 goals and 25-30 points, but although I know we need scoring, not everyone in a lineup can score 30 goals.

  • I’d rather pay a lettle more for someone who can put a few goals in. Mitchell is a dead 4th liner. We need more 1st, 2nd, 3rd liner types.

  • He is worthy of a one way contract. I would sign him even if he has to play for the Whale. He didn’t play much on the 4th line, but he earned his spot. He should have another year to grow with the Rangers.

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