Colorado Avalanche Player Grade: John Mitchell

Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center John Mitchell (7) controls the puck in the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center. The Blues defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center John Mitchell (7) controls the puck in the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center. The Blues defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Time for Colorado Avalanche center John “The Doctor” Mitchell’s player grade, by (possibly, but unlikely) your favorite writer.

Early in my tenure as a writer here there was a miscommunication between myself and my great editor. I had written an article about John Mitchell and how I had unexpectedly came to love his play. Because I am a smart ass I decided to name the article “Dr. John Mitchell, or How I Came To Love a 4th Line Center”- a play off the famous movie “Dr. Strangelove.” The premise being I had unexpectedly come to love a 4th line center and trust him more then many of the skilled forwards the Avalanche possess.

However, apparently long parodies of 50-year-old comedies aren’t good titles, and a miscommunication led my editor to believe I was bestowing John Mitchell the moniker “The Doctor” because of his smart play. Which was partly true, but I just felt like now would be a good time to clear the air on that. Because as smart and solid as Mitchell was at the beginning of the year, boy did he piss me off throughout the season.

The Grading Process

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I’m going to break with website tradition and start with my subjective review of Johnny and then post his stats for two reasons: A. I’m a bad-ass with a reputation to maintain, and B. Stats can be very deceiving. Especially plus/minus, hits, and blocked shots, because in reality a player can have very little control over those.

So we start with my subjective review of John Mitchell. First his role on the team: everything.

Mitchell played on the 4th line at times this year and the first line on times this year. He appeared on the PK often, and the power play occasionally.  I tend to think of him as a less skilled Ryan O’Reilly or Paul Statsny; he’s by far the closest thing the Colorado Avalanche have to a lock down center (now that they’ve lost O’Reilly and Statsny).

He’s an effort player with a surprisingly deadly wrist shot if he finds himself in a good scoring position to use it, but struggles to get the puck in the scoring position often. His hands are a little above average, as well as his passing. Overall I would say he’s a league average 2nd or 3rd line center.

And for the most part I like having him on the ice, but for some reason he made some incredibly boneheaded decisions during the year. He pretty much single handedly cost the Avalanche one OT game by taking two ridiculously long shifts for 3 on 3 hockey, only to do the same thing in the next OT game the Avs were in.

At the same time, his effort seemed to fade at time during the year, and as much as I like Mitchell when he’s playing his game, I absolutely hate him when he’s lazy.

Stats Time


PlayedGoalsAssistsPointsGoal % of PointsAssist % of Points 71 10 11 21 47.6% 52.4%Even Strength Goal %PP Goal %SOGShooting %Even Strength Assist %PP Assist % 90%0 101 9.9% 90.9% 9.1% 

Take AwaysGive AwaysTurnover +/-BlocksHitsTOI per Game 33 17 16 65 85 15:24

In addition to these statistics, I would like to also input that John Mitchell played most of his ice time with Cody McLeod and Jack Skille as his wings, so he wasn’t exactly set up for offensive success. Also this season he recorded his lowest power play ice time per game through out his entire career at just over 30 seconds a game.

Next: Duchene Unlikely To Be Traded

Grade: C+

I truly believe John Mitchell can be a major factor for the Colorado Avalanche (major positive factor); however he was not truly given the chance to show his offensive prowess this season. He spent most the year with 4th line forwards and spent very little time on the PK.

At the same time he failed to bring his best to the table every night, like most of the Avs, and his bad decision making in crucial times was just awful.

John Mitchell is very underrated, but unless he can find his game soon we may have to revoke his practitioner’s license.

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The Future

I will admit I cannot readily see the future — I’d be a much better gambler if I could, and this especially true in John Mitchell’s case. Roy played Mitchell mostly on the 4th line and limited his power play time, which I think wasted some of his offensive abilities. Yet Roy also started numerous OT’s with Mitchell on the ice — I don’t get the logic there.

Regardless, Mitchell is locked up for one more year at 1.8 million and his future probably largely hinges on how he plays this season. Grinding 4th liners aren’t that hard to find, but solid two way centers are. If Mitchell can prove he can be a consistent contribute at both ends of the ice expect him to get an extension. However if he continues with his streaky play we might only be seeing the goatee for one more season.