Since news is so slow today I thought we could all take a look at one name that might not be on your prospect radar for the Detroit Red Wings in Mitchell Callahan.
The Whittier California native was drafted by the Wings in the 6th round (180th overall) of the 2009 NHL entry draft. The 5’11″ and 175 lbs forward stepped into the pro ranks this season with Grand Rapids.
The reason Callahan, who does not come from a hockey hotbed, and is undersized by most NHL standards is so intriguing is the fact that the Wings haven’t had a player of his mold for quite some time. He’s not an offensive juggernaut, though he’s very capable of potting a goal when needed. He does however have a knack for getting under the opponents skin.
He is an agitator, and a very effective one at that.
Click the jump to find out more about your future favorite Red Wing
Scouting Report Via Red Wings Central
SCOUT COMMENTS “He’s a high-energy, high-impact player. He finishes all of his checks, he’s fearless and he’ll take on anybody. You hope he’s going to be one of those guys who gets in on the forecheck and who causes havoc on defensemen.” — Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill (June 2009) … “Daniel Carcillo in Philly is the kind of guy this guy is. He’s after you all the time, under everybody’s skin, he’s yappin’ at you and he’s doing all the things that bother everybody. He’s an agitator.” — Kelowna Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton (June 2009) … “He’s something we don’t have. We’re not a tough, robust team, and he brings in that agitator. He’s in your face, he’s going to fight anybody, one of those fan favorite type of players.” — Nill (July 2010, DetroitRedWings.com).
STRENGTHS Plays a robust, tenacious physical game … Yaps at everyone, fights anyone, hits everything … Generates energy for his team every shift … Hard hitter who scares defensemen with his hustle on the forecheck … Has shown he has the hands to chip in with timely goals … Stands up for his teammates in a heartbeat and is a “pound-for-pound” good fighter … Fan favorite and a treat to watch … Learned quickly to be responsible in his own end with Kelowna.
WEAKNESSES The big question is if Callahan has the hands to be more than a minor-leaguer … Average skater, and needs particular improvement on his first couple of steps to get to the next level … Can he survive at the next level with his style of play and below-average size?
PROJECTION The Red Wings rarely draft players of Callahan’s ilk, but they liked his potential, particularly in the sixth round. He has NHL upside as a third- or fourth-line agitating right-winger and his progress in his final two seasons of junior, particularly on the offensive side of things, have shown he’s well on his way. Expect him to win an AHL job with Grand Rapids in 2011-12.
Now with all that goodness warming your heart let me tell you why Callahan is special. First lets start with the fact that he made the Kelowna Rockets as a walk on in 2008, that right there shows you the determination and work ethic he had as a 17-year-old, he impressed the Wings so much in ’09 that they drafted him without being on the central scouting lists, and in the 10-11 season he worked his way onto team USA and he won a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.
The Wings have so much confidence in the 20-year-old winger that they signed him to a 3-year entry level deal a year early. Known for being a pest on the ice, Callahan will do or say anything to get his opponents focused on him and off their game. He is also not afraid to drop the gloves no matter the size, in 3 seasons with Kelowna he’s had 48 fighting majors and 440 penalty minutes.
But don’t let his reputation of being a pest and tough guy lead you to think that Callahan is another locker room cancer like Sean Avery, in fact Callahan is the exact opposite. Off the ice he is the guy that gets the room loose, telling jokes and making people smile. Brendan Smith was quoted saying “You wouldn’t know he’s a real tough guy because he’s kind of a little sweetheart. Every team has that one guy who’s kind of charismatic and cracks jokes.”
So what player does Callahan best resemble? Well, that’s not so easy. He has so many aspects to his game that you can’t quite pigeon hold him to one player. He has parts to his game compared to Dallas Drake, Dan Carcillo, Bob Probert, Dino Ciccarelli, Darren McCarty and Darcy Tucker.
In his first year as a pro he has 5 points (3G, 2A) and 7 fighting majors for 60 PIM in 23 games. He still has plenty of work to do before he can even think about cracking the Wings lineup, but the kid has the drive and determination to do what needs to be done.
My prediction for the future is that Callahan will be an instant fan favorite. His jersey will be worn by Red Wings fans in the same fashion as Draper and McCarty’s were. Though he wont be an offensive superstar, he will be a glue guy to our future. A player that championships aren’t won without.
Follow Callahan on Twitter @emcy1five