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Should Mitch Callahan Be With The Red Wings Next Season?

Welcome to the "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" series where Kyle and I take an in depth look at the Wings prospects who will lose waiver exemption at the end of this season, and whether they should remain in the organization.

Mitch Callahan
Mitch Callahan
Griffins Hockey


Name: Mitch Callahan Alias: Callyhands
Position: RW Birthdate: 8/17/1991
Shoots: R Age: 22 Yrs 5Mos 19dys
Height: 6'0" Birthplace: Whitier, CA
Weight: 195 Drafted: #180 6th Rd 2009
Contract Signed: April 30, 2010
Contract: On the final year of 3yr Entry Level Deal
Status: RFA at the end of the 2013-2014 season
Current Salary: AHL $50,000 NHL $550,000 Cap Hit $565,278


Season Team League GP G A TP PIM +/- Playoffs GP G A TP PIM +/-
2008-2009 Kelowna Rockets WHL 70 14 13 27 188 +11 | Playoffs 22 1 3 4 43 +3
Kelowna Rockets M-Cup 4 0 1 1 2 +1 |
2009-2010 Kelowna Rockets WHL 72 20 27 47 165 -1 | Playoffs 12 2 4 6 10 -1
2010-2011 Kelowna Rockets WHL 62 23 31 54 87 +4 | Playoffs 10 5 4 9 17 +2
USA U20 WJC-20 6 1 0 1 2 -1 |
2011-2012 Grand Rapids Griffins AHL 48 6 3 9 103 -3 |
2012-2013 Grand Rapids Griffins AHL 71 11 9 20 93 -3 | Playoffs 24 6 5 11 33 +1
2013-2014 Grand Rapids Griffins AHL 45 18 7 25 37 +16 |

A cursory glance at his stats will tell you that Mitch has already had a career best season, and we're only a little over halfway in. Where does he rank on the team?

  • 4th on the team in scoring with 26 points
  • Tied with Teemu Pulkkinen for team lead in goals with 18
  • On pace for a career low 60 PIM this season.
  • Leads the team in +/- with a +16
  • 2nd on the team in shots on goal with 130, only Teemu Pulkkinen has more with 134
  • Has 2 of the Griffins total 5 shorthanded goals
  • Tied for 7th in power play goals


Look at those stats and standings up above, and what Mitch has done so far this season, then realize that he's done it playing mostly 3rd line minutes, on top penalty killing unit, and with little power play time.

Mitch has grown from tough guy who racks up penalty minutes and fights, to a trusted player who gets under opponents skin and gets them take penalties, sticks up for teammates, is trusted out on the ice in any and every game situation, AND is tied for team lead in goals. It doesn't matter if the Griffins are protecting a lead in the waning minutes of a game, are looking for the equalizer, or need a clutch goal in overtime, Mitch Callahan is on the ice.


Net Front skills: Callyhands makes himself right at home in front of the opposing goalie, screening them, tipping in goals, and generally driving the other team nuts.

Penalty Killer: Callahan has been a staple on the Griffins penalty kill, which shows how much Blashill trusts him defensively, and Mitch has rewarded that trust by not only becoming a very efficient PK'er, but by scoring 2 shorthanded goals already this season.

Agitator: Callahan gets under people's skin, infuriates them, and causes them to lose their cool and take penalties. He'll chirp players and is often found in the midst of post whistle "discussions". Despite being in the midst of plenty of scrums and action, Callahan shows discipline in not taking penalties nor letting the opposition get under his skin. Numerous times I've seen people try to goad him into either fighting or doing something stupid and take a penalty but Mitch didn't take the bait. This is evidenced by his career low in PIM and the fact that he's only 5th on the team in penalty minutes. That tough guy Adam Almquist has more PIM this season than Cally does.

Speed & Energy: I'd put Callahan in the top 5 fastest Griffins. He doesn't constantly go blazing down the ice, but on the penalty kill he gets quite a few scoring opportunities because of his speed and tenacity, like this preseason goal against the Leafs. He brings energy, enthusiasm, and an upbeat pace to the game, and he's one of the first people to stick up for his teammates and make it known that it's not ok to take liberties with them; even if that means taking on the entire opposing team's bench. Knowing your teammates have your back is important in fostering a healthy comradery and sense of team. Mitch Callahan undoubtedly brings this quality to his team.

Versatility: He's not a fighter, he's not just a tough guy, he's not just a "gritty" guy, nor a grinder, nor someone who only hits people. He's a two-way player who's good in all 3 zones, and brings so much more to the team than your typical energy or tough guy and in the current NHL where teams need players who are more than one dimensional players, his versatility makes him a more valuable. He has the ability to make plays and score a few pretty goals, but his bread and butter is scoring dirty goals, tip in goals, and stuffing in rebounds. He also has a knack for scoring important goals (tying goals, game winners, OT goals, & playoff goals), and when the Griffins need a hero, Mitch is a top candidate to get the job done. In the playoffs last Spring, he had points in back-to-back games five times, including Games 5 and 6 of the Finals against Syracuse. He also tied for the team lead in the finals with five points (2G 3A), including a goal and assist during the cup-clinching game.

What does his coach say?

"I think Mitch has been real good all year and his role increases when the guys are gone. What I would also say, though, is that it took me too long last year to figure out how good he was, and I think I realize that now. I really trust him out there"


"Mitch is the type of player you win with," Blashill said. "He's very, very strong on the puck, he wins puck battles, he goes to the net hard, he's got good hands, he's physical, he's an agitator and he'll fight when needed. Those are all assets, that, when you put them all together, that makes you a real good hockey player."

"He's been a real important part of our team," Blashill said. "He's just a more effective player than I realized at first. That's just getting to know your players and maybe just giving him more opportunity ... and he took off with it."



From a walk on for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, to one of the best players for the Calder Cup Champion Griffins, Mitch Callahan's work ethic has propelled him to his current position. He's a late bloomer who hasn't gotten a call up with the Wings yet, but blossomed under the guidance of Jeff Blashill in Grand Rapids and his time may be near. He's not a superstar player, he doesn't have hands or high end skill like Tomas Jurco, he doesn't have a cannon of a shot like Pulkkinen or Sproul, and he doesn't have the elite hockey sense of Calle Jarnkrok. What he does have is a jack of all trades skill set and a dedicated work ethic, and all the grit and toughness you need, without sacrificing offensive production or riding the pine.

There are two big questions when deciding if there's room or a need to Mitch with the Wings next season.

1) Can his skills translate to the NHL? There's a big difference between having what it takes to be good in the AHL, and that success translating to the NHL. If Mitch can successfully translate his game to the NHL, and be even half of what he if to the Griffins, to the Wings, I would definitely like to see him get a shot with the Wings.

2) Will there be an opening on the team for the role Callahan plays? I think every team is better with a player or two like MItch, but if you have too many players filling that role, it can be a detriment to the team. It's a fine balancing act to make sure everyone on the team has a role to fill, and you don't have too many people trying to fill the same roll. Will next year's Red Wings need what Callahan can bring?

I want Mitch Callahan with the Wings next season because I think he can bring value and fill a role that I think the Wings currently lack. I'd take Mitch Callahan on the Wings over, say Jordin Tootoo, in a heartbeat. Mitch has a more versatile skill set, and would make less money. I don't know if Callahan can do for the Wings what I hope he can, but I want the opportunity to find out.

What do you think? Should Mitch Callahan be with the Wings next season?