John Mitchell joins Nik Kulemin as the second Leaf to re-sign with the club today. Â After initially not being qualified by Toronto, Mitchell hit unrestricted free agency with an understanding that Brian Burke intended to offer him a new contract. Â The purpose of waiting was financially-driven as it allowed Toronto to save at the very least 250,000 on Mitchell because he was not qualified.
Clearly the Leafs management team still considers Mitchell a possible bottom-six player on their team going forward. Â As indicated in Garrett’s excellent review of Mitchell’s season, the Waterloo native will have to prove a whole lot to earn a permanent spot on Brian Burke’s squad. Â Mitchell will be looking to course-correct a downswing in his offensive production (12 G in 08-09, 6 G in 09-10) while further strengthening his reputation as a hard-working, determined grinder.
The move will also create some intense roster competition, as you can be virtually assured that not all of Mitchell, Caputi, Hanson and Brown will fit into the lineup at once, especially considering theÂ possibilityÂ of an additional forward via trade or a rookie (Kadri) making the squad. Â Mitchell will need to have a strong season to have a future in the blue and white.