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Torrey Mitchell resurrecting his career in Montreal

Greenfield Park native Torrey Mitchell had a rough start to his Canadiens career, but he's stepped up in the playoffs beyond expectations.

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

When Greenfield Park, Quebec native by Marc Bergevin at the NHL trade deadline for fringe prospect Jack Nevins and a seventh round pick, it was to little fanfare. In his last 163 regular season games, Mitchell had scored all of 12 goals and 19 assists, essentially half the pace he scored at when he was with San Jose the two years prior.

Playing on a dismal Buffalo Sabres team, Mitchell was heavily behind the eight ball when he joined the Montreal Canadiens. In 14 games post-trade deadline, Mitchell managed just a single assist on a goal by Jeff Petry in the second last game of the season. He was a healthy scratch in favour of Manny Malhotra from time to time, and put up atrocious even strength numbers.

While Mitchell was on the ice, the Canadiens were getting just 36.45% of the shot attempts at even strength, and just 33.33% of the scoring chances. The fourth line on the Canadiens is used as a defensive mop up unit, taking a ton of defensive zone draws in order to give the top two lines more offensive opportunities, so it's expected that they wouldn't have good possession numbers, but it was obvious Mitchell was struggling, even with 70% of his faceoffs coming in the defensive zone.

Then came the playoffs

I'm not sure what exactly happened between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs for Torrey Mitchell, but the shell of his former self that we saw start out in Montreal was gone when the playoffs started up. Mitchell made an immediate impact, scoring the Canadiens' first goal of the playoffs, and hasn't slowed down.

Mitchell is currently tied for third on the Canadiens in playoff points with five, one goal and four assists, and has taken on an even tougher role than the one he had during the regular season, and flourished.

Mitchell is now taking 76.84% of his faceoffs in the defensive zone, winning most of them (52.38% at even strength), and somehow still managed to put together positive possession numbers, clocking in at 51.02% Corsi, with a whopping 55.77% of shots on goal going the Canadiens' way while he's on.

Perhaps most impressive of all, is that Mitchell has seen the Canadiens control 53.95% of scoring chances while he's on the ice. Remember that the minutes that Mitchell plays aren't designed to generate offense, he's supposed to be a minute eater that doesn't cave defensively, so that the top lines can fill the net in a better situation.

What Mitchell has done is so much more than that, though. His offensive production in those leveraged minutes has quite literally saved the Canadiens from elimination, with most of of the team's top performers struggling until just recently. Mitchell has taken throwaway minutes on the fourth line and turned in second line production in a playoffs with very little scoring.

Much of the future talk in Montreal is about how Marc Bergevin needs to sign Jeff Petry this summer, but Mitchell has made an extremely strong case to be next on the list.