Zack Mitchell has yet to even step foot in the State of Hockey and he’s already becoming a thing of legend.
An overage right winger, Mitchell scored a goal and two assists for three points in leading the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm to a 6-3 victory over the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Val-d’Or Foreurs last night in Game Four of the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup Tournament. Signed as an undrafted free agent, the skilled forward wasted no time in getting the Storm on the board, as he helped set up an easy goal for line mate Kerby Rychel just :59 into the game. Three minutes later, Mitchell cruised through the offensive zone, snapping a quick wrister high blocker side on Antoine Bibeau for a beautiful tally.
Mitchell would collect one more assist in the second period with a great cross-crease feed to finish off a three-on-two. In two games this tournament, the 21-year old forward has a goal and two assists for three points and a plus-1 rating. After an average first four seasons in the OHL, Mitchell exploded this season, scoring 31 goals and 52 assists for 83 points and a plus-52 rating in 67 games. He then scored 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points and a plus-23 rating in 20 games in the process of leading the Storm to the OHL championship and into the Memorial Cup Tournament.
It’s easy to see why Minnesota was so keen to sign him, especially with the current lack of depth at the position in the prospect pool. Mitchell is still likely a few years away from seeing time in St. Paul, but his ceiling could potentially be a good deal higher than current Wild right wing Justin Fontaine. When you take into account that Fontaine has spent a considerable amount of time on Minnesota’s third line this season, that should be an eye-opener.
Mitchell is definitely one to keep an eye on the next few seasons. If Minnesota keeps finding gems like him on the undrafted free agent market, the future looks bright indeed.