EL SEGUNDO, CA — On November 23, the Los Angeles Kings acquired veteran center Torrey Mitchell from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a conditional fifth round pick in the 2018 National Hockey League Draft.
The conditions on the draft pick are that if the Kings make the playoffs this season, the pick becomes a fourth round pick in this year’s draft, one that was traded to the Kings by the Canadiens last season in exchange for left wing Dwight King.
The 32-year-old, 5-11, 186-pound native of Greenfield Park, Quebec has been a checking forward throughout his 11-plus years in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, who selected him in the fourth round (126th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, along with the Minnesota Wild, Buffalo Sabres, and the Canadiens, before he was traded to the Kings.
Mitchell indicated that he was a bit surprised by the trade, but added that he was very pleased to learn that he was headed to Los Angeles.
“My initial reaction was that this team always has a chance to win the Stanley Cup, so that’s exciting,” he noted. “I was a little surprised, but at the same time, I’m excited to come to a team that’s going to contend for a Cup.”
Mitchell, who has played in 617 NHL regular season games, scoring 61 goals and adding, 80 assists for 141 points, with a +5 plus/minus rating and 323 penalty minutes, is looking to hit the reset button on his 2017-18 season after playing in just eleven games before being traded to the Kings.
“Our whole team was struggling, a little bit,” he said. “Sometimes, guys on the fourth line—that’s where the minor changes happen.”
“The season wasn’t going as I had planned it to go,” he added. “But I’m looking forward to the fresh start. Hopefully, the change of scenery will be a good thing.”
Mitchell, who has also played in 75 NHL playoff games, scoring five goals and tallying 13 assists for 18 points, with a +7 plus/minus rating and 36 penalty minutes should be a reliable, versatile forward for the Kings on their fourth line, and maybe even their third line.
“I bring speed, I can play center or wing, and I’m pretty good on face-offs,” he said. “I’ve been around almost eleven years now, so I’ve got a little experience.”
“He’s been around long enough, so we’ve got a pretty good read on him, as a player,” said head coach John Stevens. “He skates really well, he’s good on face-offs, he has a really sound checking game, he’s a good penalty-killer. He brings speed to our lineup, he brings some experience to our lineup.”
Mitchell’s proven ability on the forecheck, in the face-off circle, and on the penalty-kill were the major points that proved attractive to the Kings.
“We think he can help us on special teams–the penalty-kill, help us start with the puck a little more, and help us on the forecheck,” Stevens noted. “Those are the things I think he’s known for, and I think that’s the reason he was interesting for us.”
One obstacle for Mitchell suiting up for the Kings is outstanding immigration paperwork, which was delayed by the fact that the trade was completed during the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
When asked about the status of his paperwork after practice on November 27, Mitchell replied, “I still don’t know. I haven’t heard. Hopefully, by tonight.”
Mitchell’s immigration status notwithstanding, being traded is never easy. But he knows that he’s going to have to make the necessary adjustments, and in short order, to fit in with his new teammates. But that’s old hat for him, to coin a phrase.
“This is my fifth team,” he observed. “You kind of learn the landscape of getting traded, a little bit, when you jump around from team to team, but yeah, it feels a little funny.”
“I just [have to] show up, and practice hard, trying not to overload my mind,” he added. “I just have to keep it simple, work hard in practice, and be ready when my number is called.”
LEAD PHOTO: Newly-acquired Los Angeles Kings forward Torrey Mitchell, shown here deflecting a shot during a recent practice. (Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net.
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