John Mitchell: Avalanche Star of the Week


Center  John Mitchell is the premier role player on the Colorado Avalanche. You may think that distinction belongs to alternate captain — and fourth-liner — Cody McLeod, but Mitchell is just the glue of the center of the team.

Every Sunday during the off season we’re going to take a look at different Colorado Avalanche players and the contributions they made to the team. This week let’s look at third-line center John Mitchell.

John Mitchell Statistics

John Mitchell was just behind Nathan MacKinnon on the Avalanche for points scored in the 2014-15 season. Granted MacKinnon had a full 12 points more, but Mitchell’s 11 goals and 15 assists put him in the top 10 for scoring on the team, which he accomplished in just 68 games.

Mitchell scored four of his goals on the power play, which was tough for the Colorado Avalanche to achieve this season. Mitchell also did his best to shoot the puck, another area of weakness for the Avalanche, averaging 1.5 shots per game.

While Mitchell didn’t shine in the plus-minus category with his -9, he was great in the turnover ratio at +20. That was good for third on the team, behind only Max Talbot and Ryan O’Reilly’s ridiculous number (+72). With both those guys gone, Mitchell could turn out to be the Avalanche’s best possession forward.

John Mitchell had a winning faceoff percentage with 50.9% Though he finished fourth on the team for that statistic among regular faceoff takers, he led early on in the season.

A statistic that also shows you his role comes in the number of hits he handed out this season, 143 or 8.0 per 60 minutes. The Avalanche are getting grittier, and Mitchell is right in the thick of things.

John Mitchell’s statistics from Sporting Charts:

Colorado Avalanche center John Mitchell’s statistics from 2014-15. Photo credit: Sporting Charts

 John Mitchell Role

John Mitchell is the third line center, though he can play in the top lines. In fact, he played winger to Matt Duchene’s center off and on throughout the season. He also played on the power play.

Mitchell’s strongest role is as third-line center, though. He’s good with faceoffs. He’s gritty enough to win battles in the corners. He can chip in and score goals or set up plays. And his two-way game is strong enough to put him out there against the top-six of other teams. I wish there was a statistic for this, but I’m willing to bet many of Mitchell’s 143 hits were on top-six forwards.

In fact, here’s Mitchell coming to the defense of offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie against the huge Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets:

Yes, Byfuglien sends Mitchell flying, but the noteworthy aspect is that Michell bounced back up and went right after the larger man again.

Mitchell also likes to get physical with the Minnesota Wild — of which I highly approve:

John Mitchell’s Future

John Mitchell’s new contract, which he signed last summer, starts with the 2015-16 season. The contract is good for three years with an annual cap hit of $1.8 million.

Mitchell fought injuries last season. He suffered a concussion late in the 2013-14 season that kept him out of the preseason and early games. He then missed almost a month with a leg injury from November to December. When he returned, though, he was in good form.

That said, head coach Patrick Roy wants two very concrete things from his centers. He wants size, and he wants grittiness. While it’s true that, at 6-foot-1, 204 pounds Mitchell is average-sized for an NHL forward, he plays with the physicality of a bigger man.

He’s got a lot more offensive upside than some of the grittier players, and a lot more grit than some of the bottom-six skill players. Coupled with his work ethic and versatility, there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to have a role on the team. So, most likely Mitchell will continue on as the solid third-line center he’s been the last three seasons for the Colorado Avalanche.

Next: Avs Player Profile: John Mitchell

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