Monday, 15 June 2015

Torrey Mitchell signed to a very affordable contract by the Canadiens.

The Canadiens have signed defensively-oriented centre Torrey Mitchell to a three year deal, reported to be worth $1.2M per season.

You have to like that Marc Bergevin retains assets whenever possible.  He flipped a 7th rounder to Tim Murray for Torrey Mitchell, along with Ultimate Throw-In Jack Nevins, a gunslinger in an age when the sheriff don't allow no gun play no mo'.  But, same as with Jeff Petry, the trade for Torrey now isn't just a rental, a sacrifice of draft picks on a pyre, a lottery ticket that didn't pay out and now lies torn up on the ground.  We derive more value from the trade by having the player next season and beyond.

I like that Torrey's a veteran right-handed centreman, it balances out the lineup, all of our other centremen are lefties.  He can play the part of Manny Malhotra, he won't exactly replicate the dominance in the faceoff circle, but he'll bring other tools to the table: more quickness, speed, more offensive awareness and production.

He's not as big as Manny, but the game now is all about speed and forechecking and not being out of position and playing the system.  So his average stature will only matter when taking draws against a Brian Boyle or Ryan Getzlaf, or when we're facing off against Cam Neely's Everything Old Is Bruins Again.

I really like that Torrey's a homeboy.  That's important to me.  Kids need to know their heroes, brush elbows with them and be thunderstruck by it, know that they can grow up big and strong like them and one day too wear le bleu-blanc-rouge.  We can derive an advantage by having kids growing up dreaming of being a Canadien.

So now our GM has a body, a cheap contract in his arsenal, a veteran player to offer up his coach.  I thought we could save pennies by foregoing Torrey, relying on Michaël Bournival and other AHL'ers to staff the fourth line.  I'll trust the management team to have evaluated the players involved and made the right decision, that it was cost-effective and beneficial to our team to retain his services.

Another qualm I had on first perusal of the details was how the contract is three years long, how if Torrey's effectiveness nosedives, we could struggle with that term and cap hit.  Maybe a two-year deal at a slightly higher cost would have been better?  After all, he was a marginal player on an abysmal Sabre team, maybe he's topped out?

Reflecting on this though, I realized there's no use worrying about it, this contract contains its own buyout, essentially, it's like a ship with a self-destruct capability.

At $1.2M per season, let's say Torrey hits a wall next season and the only option would be to cut him loose, buy him out, we couldn't dump his contract on anybody.

Without CapGeek to rely on, that buyout would be 2/3 of the remaining amount, $2.4M spread out over four years, so $1.6M/4.  The Canadiens would incur a $400 000 cap hit for the next four years, a sum that's not trivial, but certainly manageable.

But such gymnastics wouldn't even be necessary.  The Canadiens, if it came to that, could just send him down to the AHL, and 'hide' $950 000 of his full salary there, as the rules allow.

So the Canadiens could get an even smaller cap penalty, $250 000, by sending him down to the IceCaps, for half the time of an outright buyout.

With this in mind, we realize that this is a contract with very low risk.  If he plays well, he'll be an affordable, valuable veteran.  If he fades, he can be sent down to the AHL.  If, as Marc Bergevin often says, a kid or kids make the decision for him and win a job, their path won't be blocked by Torrey Mitchell because he's making too much money.

So again I tip my hat to our brain trust, their handling of their personnel.  This is a far cry from the Bob Gainey years, when we let Alex Tanguay and Saku Koivu and Sheldon Souray and Marc Streit and Mike Komisarek and Alex Kovalev and more, walk off as free agents without compensation or even offers in some cases.  This is a refreshing change from the former practice of 'Trade 2nd-rounder for rental, lose him on July 1, rinse, repeat next season.'

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