The New York Rangers acquired center John Mitchell from the Toronto Maple Leafs in return for a 2012 7th round pick. He probably wasn’t the center you were anticipating Sather making a move for today, but here we are. For better or worse (I tend to think better) this trade was the only one the Rangers made on deadline day, though don’t forget that the Rangers did a lot of their work prior in acquiring Wolski and McCabe. With this being the only move of the day, let’s overanalyze John Mitchell and what he brings to the Rangers:
Forward Depth: As I mentioned in my final trading deadline speculation post, the Rangers had to add a depth forward of some kind. Between injuries in Connecticut, Zuccarello permanently called up and Newbury temporarily, and Kennedy traded a few days ago, the Whale were desperate for some forward help. Mitchell has been a 12-20 goal scorer in the AHL so he’s a competent addition in that respect. Given the Rangers’ injuries this year, though, it’s also wise to add someone with NHL experience in case he is needed. If the Rangers make the playoffs, then the depth is that much more important with an extended season.
Penalty Killing: Not that he’s a penalty killing expert such as a player like Blair Betts, but Mitchell is a decent option on the PK and has averaged 55 seconds per game on the PK in his 23 games with Toronto this year. You can never have too many guys who are able to contribute shorthanded.
Faceoffs: The overall reason for the acquisition was to add a depth body, but Mitchell’s best asset, and one that is nice to have available to the coaching staff, is his face-off ability. Of the five most frequent face-off takers on the Rangers, only Dubinsky has a success rate above 50%. The team as a whole is 28th in the league in face-off percentage. Mitchell has a 55.7% face-off percentage in his 23 games this season, so he is someone that could be a go-to guy for defensive zone face-offs, penalty kill face-offs, or face-offs at the end of the game.
The Rangers gave up a 7th round pick for Mitchell. Of course you never want to just give away assets, no matter how insignificant, but that’s such a negligent loss. Realistically, any 7th round pick that turns into a player of even Mitchell’s caliber is a success. It is a boring but necessary trade made by Sather. Newbury has already cleared waivers so he can be sent down freely and immediately. Whether the Rangers elect to send Mitchell down or Newbury down is yet to be seen.