Suppose the Avalanche were to play an intrasquad game for charity on a local pond and young standout forwards Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog served as captains and chose sides.

Who gets picked in the first round?

P.A. Parenteau, Ryan O'Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon and Paul Stastny would certainly be considered. But John Mitchell might be selected No. 1.

His role with the Avs covers everything but goaltending.

"He's kind of the Swiss Army knife of the team," Duchene said of Mitchell, the Avs' third- or fourth-line center who also has been used as a scoring-line winger, power-play and penalty-killing specialist, and in sudden-death, 4-on-4 overtimes.

"He's got a lot of offensive upside, more than people think," Duchene said. "He's got a great shot and some good finish, and he's very responsible defensively and he can check as well."

Mitchell, 28, is in his second season with the Avs after signing a two-year, $2.2 million free-agent deal in 2012, shortly after helping the New York Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Mitchell played on the third and fourth lines for the Rangers but rarely on the penalty kill. He was a fixture on the second power-play unit.

In 47 games with the Avs last season, Mitchell scored 10 goals, fifth on the team, and played in all situations under former coach Joe Sacco. First-year coach Patrick Roy has used Mitchell much the same way.

"He's a guy that adapts really well to any situation," Roy said of the native of Oakville, Ontario, who has chipped in four goals and 12 points in 33 games. "If we have a faceoff in our end, I'm not afraid to put him out there."

Most third lines in the NHL are a defensive-oriented threesome usually asked to play against the opponent's top line. But Mitchell's line, with wingers Jamie McGinn and Max Talbot, have the freedom to feel like a scoring line. Talbot helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the 2009 Stanley Cup while playing on a third line with center Jordan Staal, who played behind world-class centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Mitchell is playing behind centers Duchene and Paul Stastny, with natural centers Ryan O'Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon having moved to the wings on Duchene's line. Talbot said there is no such thing as having too many centers.