Were Montreal Canadiens forward Torrey Mitchell a star, this would have been the time for him to seriously cash in. He’s technically still in his prime at age 30 and is coming off a relatively impressive postseason showing, during which he scored five points in 12 games, tying Brendan Gallagher for the second-most among Habs forwards (Max Pacioretty).
Although that’s probably more a sign of Montreal offensive problems than his offensive prowess, general manager Marc Bergevin undeniably improved his team by slyly re-signing his trade-deadline acquisition this past week for (an as-of-yet-unconfirmed) $1.2 million in each of the next three years … when he made over twice that last season ($2.5-million salary, $1.9-million cap hit).
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) June 15, 2015
Mitchell being from the South Shore probably had at least a little something to do with him being willing to take a (sizable) pay cut, as reported by Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports. However, credit must be given to Bergevin for affordably solidifying his team’s bottom six (or top six under head coach Michel Therrien).
The Salary-Cap Situation So Far
Following the $1-million-per-year Nathan Beaulieu deal last weekend, Bergevin has now put himself in a good position to fill his roster while staying under the projected $71-million salary cap. With approximately $66.5 million in cap space devoted to 20 players signed with the big team, he essentially has a very workable $5 million to sign three players.
A large portion of that money will likely go to restricted free agent Alex Galchenyuk, but, assuming he signs a bridge deal, there should be more than enough for some combination of fellow RFAs Jarred Tinordi, Michael Bournival, Christian Thomas and Brian Flynn to stay with the big club next season.
None of those four have a great deal of leverage, except maybe Flynn, who scored just two points less than Mitchell these past playoffs, albeit all in a single game. That puts it all in the proper perspective. He was also a healthy scratch half the spring, which means there’s a distinct possibility there may not be (salary-cap) room for him next season.
Torrey Mitchell: The Forgotten Fourth-Line Forward
Really, that’s what’s largely forgotten with the Mitchell deal, as well; how it’s a relatively minor signing of a fourth-line forward, who may or may not pan out, how Mitchell, despite having played in all 12 playoff games this year, will inevitably find himself a healthy scratch at least a few times next year.
That’s regardless of how well or how poorly he plays—it is a numbers game after all. There‘s nevertheless little indication looking at his career up to this point that Mitchell will be able to produce at a similar pace next season or any of the two subsequent years of the deal should he still be with Montreal.
Mitchell may have been more offensively consistent than Flynn, but his five points may as well have come in a single game as well, because he won’t be expected to score the 30-plus points they work out to over a single season. If he does, awesome. But this deal isn’t as much about Mitchell as it is about Montreal.
Let’s Make a Deal
Mitchell was signed to be a checking-line center that’s able to take faceoffs (essentially 50 percent during the playoffs, 56.9 percent during the regular season) and shoot right. Excluding Flynn, he’s now the only one on the roster. Bergevin recognized that need and acted accordingly, arguably underpaying him in the process in exchange for term. Kudos to him.
Kudos to both, actually, as they each got what they wanted. Bergevin was able to check off one more item from his to-do list. Mitchell got some stability. Both probably recognized the forward’s limitations and realized what he is and what he isn’t and came to an easy agreement.
No, Mitchell is not a star player. He is, however, an NHLer who could probably have made a little bit more elsewhere, but without the opportunity to make a difference playing on his hometown team. Sometimes that’s all that matters. That and him being able to speak French. That’s always a bonus.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.