As we await the beginning of the new NHL season, I’ll be previewing each of the players in the Minnesota Wild system who will be on the roster, or competing for a place this year. My subject for this edition is Torrey Mitchell.
Torrey Mitchell was an under-the-radar signing by Chuck Fletcher in the Summer of 2012. He was brought-in to improve the team’s bottom-6. He had spent his career in the Sharks organisation up to that point, being known for his speed and knack of scoring rare but excellent goals.
He had a decent year for the Wild. He got pushed down the depth chart by the arrival of Zach Parise, the return to full health of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and the emergence of Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker so he spent almost all his time on the 4th line. He made a good impression with his speedy forechecking and often looked like a player who could succeed in the top-9 if given a chance. He notched a playoff goal against the Blackhawks in May.
-Here are some of his regular season numbers from last year:
|SHOOTING %/SHOTS ATTEMPTED||10.3%/39|
Playing on the 4th line, Mitchell had reasonable production, scoring 8 points. He played a pretty clean game, drawing a lot more penalties than he gave away. He registered a lot of TOI for a 4th liner and contributed heavily to the penalty kill, which was his main job on the team.
-Here are some more in-depth numbers from last year:
|OFFENSIVE ZONE START %||49.6%|
|OFFENSIVE ZONE FINISH %||44.8%|
|QUALITY OF COMPETITION||-1.555|
|SHOTS FOR/20 MINS||7.331|
|GOALS FOR/20 MINS||0.349|
|SHOTS AGAINST/20 MINS||8.777|
|GOALS AGAINST/20 MINS||0.748|
|5v5 1st ASSIST/60||0.449|
Mitchell played very soft competition with a surprisingly high percentage of offensive zone starts, which is why his Corsi numbers are disappointing. It could be blamed on playing with Konopka and Rupp, but Rupp actually had better numbers than him and Konopka played harder competition. He was a really bad puck possession player last year. Every one of Mitchell’s assists last year was a 1st assist, which is a nice little stat and shows that he can be a decent contributor offensively.
His low PDO suggests he was somewhat unlucky last year in terms of his On-Ice Shooting and Save percentages, though playing with two goon-type players almost all of the time would be a reason for the very low On-Ice shooting percentage and thus his low PDO.
-Here’s the Player Usage Chart for the Wild forwards who played more than 20 games last year, illustrating the numbers above:
(Click To Enlarge) (Bubble Size=Corsi On Rating. Blue Bubble=Postive. Red Bubble=Negative)
Mitchell is a complicated player. He can often look really good by the “eye-test”. His speed on the forecheck really stands-out and catches the eye. This is a pretty good example of the flaws of just watching the game and ignoring what the numbers are saying, because when you look at the numbers, they show that Mitchell is putting-up horrendous puck possession stats.
-To underline this point, here are his WOWY numbers from last season, showing his two most frequent linemates and their TOI, Goals For % and Corsi For % together and apart:
|TOI w/Mitchell:|| |
|TOI Mitchell Apart:|| |
|TOI Teammate Apart:|| |
|GF% w/Mitchell:|| |
|GF% Mitchell Apart:|| |
|GF% Teammate Apart:|| |
|CF% w/Mitchell:|| |
|CF% Mitchell Apart:|| |
|CF% Teammate Apart:|| |
Mitchell carried Konopka, who caused a clear drag on Mitchell’s possession numbers, which is no surprise at all. Konopka’s GF% away from Mitchell is better, but it’s a tiny sample size so I wouldn’t read much into it.
Interestingly, it was Mike Rupp who carried Mitchell and not the other way ’round. The difference is marginal, but it’s interesting that a player of Rupp’s ilk could do that, especially when Mitchell generally played with much better players when not on the 4th line, even playing on the 1st line for a few shifts.
-I decided to look at Mitchell’s 5v5 WOWY numbers from 2007 to 2012 for his most regular linemates to see what he was like for the Sharks in terms of Corsi:
|TOI, With Mitchell:|| |
|CF%, With Mitchell:|| |
|TOI, Mitchell Apart:|| |
|CF%, Mitchell Apart:|| |
|TOI, Teammate Apart:|| |
|TOI, Teammate Apart:|| |
These numbers are taken from a long time period and sometimes the TOI between situations fluctuates wildly, but at least all the sample sizes are big enough to draw some kind of useful information.
What’s amazing is that Mitchell was a fantastic possession player for the Sharks. All of his regular linemates suffered more without Mitchell than he did without them, except for Pavelski. But Pavelski’s numbers away from Mitchell were worse than when he was with him. The two of them had an amazing 60.2% Corsi when together, over a 534 minute sample.
These numbers are extremely encouraging. Maybe last year was just a blip and Mitchell can return to being a solid possession-driving forward this year? I certainly hope so.
The word seems to be that he will be playing RW on the 4th line to start the year. The make-up of the line is slightly different with Mike Rupp on IR and Justin Fontaine, a goalscorer, taking his place. I’ll be curious to see how Mitchell and Fontaine do together. It’s worth noting that Mitchell played well with Brodziak and Cooke in preseason, so they might get another chance together sooner rather than later.
When Rupp returns, I would like to see him at LW on the 4th, with Mitchell moving to centre and Fontaine taking over on the right. I think that would be a very strong, potentially solid possession-driving 4th line.
His Season Is A Success If…
His Season Is A Disappointment If…
….he continues to post poor Corsi numbers and/or can’t generate any offence.
Okay, that’s it for Torrey Mitchell. Next, I’ll be taking a look at Zenon Konopka and previewing his 2013/2014 campaign.
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Previous articles in this series:
*Numbers in this article courtesy of: