Garrett Mitchell (image left) was the youngest player at the Capitals' Development Camp this past week. At only 17 years of age, he was drafted 175th overall (sixth round) in this year's NHL Entry Draft by GM George McPhee.
What the Caps saw in him was a energy player. A tough sparkplug with good wheels and a knack for mixing it up. He even got into a scrap last season with this summer's teammate Joel Broda. At 5'11 and 180lbs., it's clear the kid from Regina, Saskatchewan has some growing up to do. But the potential is there.
"He's a character kid, a good leader who works hard, plays physical and goes to the net," Ross Mahoney, the Capitals' director of amateur scouting, said. "He's a lot like Stefan Della Rovere in those ways."
Mitchell wasn't one of the stand out players of camp, but he wasn't bad either (one could say he was a stand out due to his age and inexperience). He figured in on some assists and just like every other new player to camp he may have been overwhelmed by the whole experience. I caught up with him right after the third scrimmage on Saturday and asked a few questions about his experience at development camp.
Puckhead's Thoughts: What were your impressions of your first camp?
Garrett Mitchell: The first couple of days everyone just got their feet wet. We didn’t play a game until the third day. I think for us, you know, those first couple of days are tough, but I think for everyone, we bounced back. I thought the pace was really good, even in this last game. It’s a long week and a long grind but I thought everyone just gave their all today.
PHT: How well did you pick up the Caps’ system of play?
GM: Every team you go to there is a little bit of a difference in the system or how the coaches want you to play. But, for the most part, most places you go it’s … a change here and there. But I thought I was quick to pick up on (the way they wanted me to play). I just can’t wait until main camp now.
PHT: What do the coaches want you to improve on?
GM: I am only 17. I think strength is an issue. Strength, speed, everything. You know you can always get better. There are not too many hockey players that can say they are at their best or they can’t get better. For that, you always want to get stronger, always want to get better in the corners or finishing pucks. You got to work to get better.
PHT: What did you think of DC as a city?
GM: We went on our tour. I know for us Canadian guys, we were going “What’s this building? What’s that building?” and the guys from the states are going, “Are you kidding me right now?!” For us it was unbelievable, to see the White House and the Capitol building and all that stuff. It was pretty cool for us.
PHT: I saw on the video you almost missed the bus there at the White House, did you get away from the group?
GM: (Chuckles) Well, there’s four of us kids and we are all from Saskatchewan so I don’t know what’s up with that. Us kids have never seen that before. It was fun for us to go see the White House and you see it on TV all the time. We got a little carried away and looked at it a little too long I guess.
PHT: What’s the one thing you will take home from camp?
GM: You look at the guys that have played here. You go in the dressing room and the weight room, every guy that has ever played since 1974 (for the Capitals) has their number there. You look around at the names and it’s pretty unbelievable whose played here. You got to take back that this is the next step, it’s that close, you just have to keep working for it. Show the guys back home if they try they can make it there too.
Mitchell scored only 10 goals, 15 points for his hometown team Regina Pats. A team he will probably return to in the fall. He also racked up 140 PIMs, that included 14 fighting majors (here is a video of him in action). Definitely a tough kid. Mitchell will turn 18 in September.