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Report: Defenseman Willie Mitchell cleared to play, seeks suitors

Aug 5, 2010, 9:11 PM EDT

williemitchell1.jpgWord comes today from the Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo that free agent defenseman Willie Mitchell has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion at the hands of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin last season. While that’s important news to teams looking for veteran defensive help (The Sharks, Red Wings and Capitals have been rumored to have interest) there’s even more important news for any team interested that might be operating with limited funds on the salary cap. Russo explains for us.

The former Wild defenseman, I’m told, actually could sign a contract with performance bonuses because he spent 100 days on injured reserve last year — including the playoffs. The CBA doesn’t spell out whether the 100 days is only during the regular season, so it appears after inquiries from Mitchell and the player interested teams, the league will allow this type of contract. I bet it’ll be for a base of $1 or $1.5 million on a one-year deal plus bonuses.

This is a highly important caveat for teams like Detroit and San Jose who might be looking to save a few bucks to get other players signed down the road. While the bonuses could eventually be a pain (just think of what happened to the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs this off-season) the bonus issue might only turn out to be an eventual problem for either the Canucks (who are also still interested) and the Red Wings. Teams like San Jose or Washington still have enough breathing room under the cap to not have to sweat performance bonuses.

What Mitchell can provide on the blue line is a guy with a strong defensive mind and tough character to provide a little bit of snarl, something that would go over very well with any of the teams that are rumored to be interested in him.

  1. Bradford - Aug 5, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Caps and Sharks fans have both been frothing at the mouth over the possibility of Mitchell coming. I gotta think that the Sharks have the edge, given that they’re in the western conference and they’d mean a little less picking-up-and-moving for Mr. Mitchell.
    At the same time, the Caps can offer a little more money. They’ve got a lot of space under the salary cap. They can also afford to offer a multi-year deal, as they’ve got a ton of expiring contracts next year and a lot of players who won’t be coming back.
    The question is what Mitchell is looking for in terms of a contract? Is he looking for a one-year rehab deal, or two or three years worth of stability?
    Also, between Mo, Helm, and resigning Abdelkader, I don’t think the Wings have the cap space or the roster space to add Mitchell. So you can really remove them from this conversation.

  2. krysmo - Aug 6, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    Mitchell will come to the Canucks for one to two year deal, $1-1.5m plus bonuses. A move from home is still a move, doesn’t matter if it’s to San Jose or Washington he’s still packing a bunch of bags. By putting Salo on long term IR, trading Hordichuk and Alberts or simply waiving them and putting them in the minors, the Canucks don’t have to do anything other than sign Mitchell.
    Later in the season they can trade Bieksa and Shane O’Brien for some 3rd line help, call up Hodgson to centre that same line and away you go. Pretty decent team with a shot at the cup, and with Mitchell on his hometown squad.

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