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Caledon’s Zack Mitchell signs KHL contract in Russia

July 25, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By JAKE COURTEPATTE

Zack Mitchell is taking his game to Russia.

One of the most successful stories ever out of the OHL’s Guelph Storm, the right winger is taking a one-year break from North American hockey, looking to bring his game back up to the NHL level after chasing the dream for five years in the AHL.

The Caledon native officially signed on Saturday with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, a Russian-based member of the KHL since 2008.

“We are so pleased to welcome Zack to the Pack,” reads a press release posted to the team’s website, translated from Russian. “Zack brings a style of game that represents our organization well.

“The Canadian is a welcome addition to our roster.”

Since his days with the Storm, it has been a grueling task for the 26-year old: unsigned out of junior, Mitchell spent four seasons cutting his teeth on the Iowa Wild, the AHL farm team o the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, between 2014-18, collecting 132 points in 250 regular season games.

He managed 23 games with the big club in the 2017-18 season, though was not offered to resign in the offseason, instead signing with the Los Angeles Kings on a one-year contract.

Spending the entire season with the AHL affiliate Ontario Reign, Mitchell made the decision to try his hand in the KHL.

Described by NHL depth site Hockey’s Future as a projected “lower line, two-way forward capable of playing in any situation,” perhaps a change in scenery is all that is needed.

“He skates like a power forward,” said Kings General Manager Rob Blake upon his signing lasts eason. “The strength is there in his skating, and that’s what should be able to take him to the next level.”

Still just 26 years old and with four professional seasons under his belt, Mitchell also boasts an OHL Championship, capping off a wildly-successful junior career. After working the minor system with both the Halton Hills Hurricanes and the Toronto Marlboros, he backed out of his commitment to play for Harvard after being picked in the fourth round of the OHL draft by the Storm.

It was in his third full year with the squad that he broke out, posting 75 points in 67 games in the 2011-12 season, leading the team in both.

After failing to sign with both the Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes in their offseason development camps, Mitchell returned to the Storm for a final overage season, where a league championship win over North Bay caught the eye of Minnesota scouts.

Ranking in the top ten in franchise history in both assists and points, Mitchell signed with the Wild in March of 2014.



         

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