At first glance, the Taylor Hall trade to the Chicago Blackhawks looked like a straight salary dump for the Boston Bruins. They needed to shed money, and Hall’s $6 million price tag solved that issue in one fell swoop.

But while gaining cap flexibility prior to free agency was no doubt the main impetus behind the Hall trade, Ian Mitchell hopes the deal (which also included the negotiating rights to Nick Foligno) represents something more to the Bruins than just taking a spoonful of bitter medicine. Mitchell and Alec Regula were the two right-shot defensemen who came in return for Hall. At the very least, the return bolstered the organizational depth at right defense, a position that needed it. Mitchell, meanwhile, was one of the defensemen who popped late in the Bruins 4-1 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday.

A second-round draft pick of the Hawks in 2017 (57th overall), Mitchell was up and down between Chicago and Rockford of the AHL the last three years, never really gaining any traction. He’s happy to get a second chance with another organization.

“It definitely didn’t go as I had hoped personally,” said the Alberta native of his time in Chicago. “Going in, I think I had some high expectations that didn’t necessarily get met, so I’m just excited for a fresh start here with an organization that’s had a lot of success, so I’m trying to come in and help anyway I can.”

It doesn’t hurt he has an important person in his corner. Coach Jim Montgomery recruited Mitchell for the University of Denver and coached him in his first of three years there before Montgomery went on to coach the Dallas Stars.

Mitchell was ecstatic to be going to Boston.


“I honestly couldn’t have been more thrilled,” said Mitchell. “Some guys maybe aren’t too happy to be traded, but to come and be with Monty again and to be with a team that was so successful last year and try to learn from this established D-corps here was something I was really excited about.”

While his relationship with the head coach hardly guarantees Mitchell a spot on the roster, Montgomery’s presence has bolstered his mindset.

“It’s huge, honestly,” said Mitchell. “Just knowing that there’s someone behind the bench that knows my game and is comfortable with me, it definitely gives me confidence every time I hop onto the ice.”

While there are spots open in the bottom six forward group, there aren’t any obvious openings on defense, at least not in the top six. While the Bruins have lost Connor Clifton and Dmitry Orlov, they’ve still got Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and now Kevin Shattenkirk on the right side, and Hampus Lindholm, Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort on the left, while Jakub Zboril, who was injured in the first preseason game, could serve as the seventh. Rookie Mason Lohrei is opening eyes as well.

So it promises to be tough roster to make for a guy like Mitchell. On the other hand, he requires waivers to be sent to Providence, which could work in his favor. What would be even more favorable is if he continues to build on his game from Tuesday in Buffalo in which he helped push the pace, especially in the second and third periods when the Bruins were chasing the score.

“I thought he’s been good in both games, but I thought he started to assert himself in the last two periods,” said Montgomery. “I thought he was on his toes, playing north, taking away time and space. He had the puck a lot. That was good. But I thought Grizzy and Lohrei did the same thing as the game wore on, so it was nice to see. That’s part of the game we’re trying to improve on. We’re asking defensemen to be more aggressive in the offensive zone because we want to spend more O-zone time. It’s good to see individuals applying what we’re trying to accomplish.”


Assistant coach Joe Sacco, who is running the defensemen this year, likes what he’s seen so far.

“He’s had a good camp up to this point,” said Sacco. “I thought the first game he played well. The second game he got better as the game went on. I thought the second game was the better game for him. He seemed more comfortable. He’s a guy that’s good with the puck. He’s good at the offensive blue line, he’s a smart player, he makes good plays, he makes good reads out there. He’s a good puck-moving defenseman that brings some skill.”

Sounds like someone the Bruins might want to keep around.


After showing what he’s capable of in the Bruins loss in Buffalo, Lohrei was paired with McAvoy in practice on Thursday. Just a look-see, said Sacco.

“Just to get him some reps with Charlie,” said Sacco. “A lot of the guys are in an evaluation process, they’re being evaluated in every practice, every game. We want to give some guys more of an opportunity to play with some established players in our lineup and see how they perform, see how they do defensively in certain situations that maybe a guy like Mason’s not accustomed to, playing against some top lines in practice or whatever the case may be.”



The Bruins will host the Flyers in a preseason game Friday at 7 p.m. Here’s Boston’s roster.

Forwards: Alex Chiasson, John Farinacci, A.J. Greer, Brett Harrison, Danton Heinen, Jakub Lauko, Brad Marchand, Georgii Merkulov, David Pastrnak, Matt Poitras, Anthony Richard, Pavel Zacha

Defensemen: Lindholm, Lohrei, McAvoy, Shattenkirk, Reilly Walsh, Parker Wotherspoon

Goaltenders: Kyle Keyser, Linus Ullmark


The Bruins made their first cuts of camp, sending to Providence Joey Abate, Vincent Arseneau, Justin Brazeau, Curtis Hall, Owen Pederson, Ethan Ritchie, Shane Starrett and Luke Toporowski

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.