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Florida inks Mitchell — two years, $8.5M — another 2x Cup winner

Jul 1, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT

williemitchellgetty Getty Images

The Florida Panthers added another veteran with Stanley Cup pedigree on Tuesday afternoon, agreeing to terms with ex-Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell on a two-year, $8.5 million deal.

Mitchell, who won two Cups in Los Angeles, signified a trend for Florida — the deal came just hours after Panthers GM Dale Tallon brought aboard center Dave Bolland, who captured a pair of championships during his time in Chicago; Tallon also signed former Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton, who won Cups with the Bruins and Ducks.

As for Mitchell, the 37-year-old wasn’t out of work for long after Los Angeles decided to pass on his services. The club let Mitchell walk despite all he brought to the table — two years ago, he scored a career-high 24 points and averaged 25:19 TOI in the playoffs as the Kings won their first ever Cup; after missing the entire 2013 campaign with knee issues, Mitchell returned this season and was a regular fixture on the L.A. blueline, playing more than 20 minutes a night during the regular season before upping that to 22:20 in the playoffs (despite missing eight games with an undisclosed injury.)

In Florida, he’ll get a nice raise and be the veteran presence (presumably) replacing Ed Jovanovski, who was bought out of the final year of his contract.  Mitchell, along with 35-year-old Brian Campbell, will be the resident greybeards on a blueline that features Erik Gudbranson (22), Dmitry Kulikov (23), Dylan Olsen (23), Alex Petrovic (22), Colby Robak (24) and 18-year-old Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

The move will also reunite Mitchell with ex-Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. The pair joined Vancouver together in 2006-07 and spent four seasons together as teammates.

  1. patthehockeyfan - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Good for Mitchell! And good for the Panthers! I’m still shaking my head wondering why Lombardi let him go.

    Mitchell will bring a needed veteran presence to the blue line. He’s got a great winning attitude, too. Can’t wait to see him teaming up with the likes of Ekblad. Good luck to Mitchell!!

  2. darksidecowboy - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Jeez Talon if you want to reach the floor how About Gonchar in Dallas?????

  3. qauzaq - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Enough with this “let him go” stuff. It was cap issue. Not much we could do about it. Good luck Mitchy!! Glad you aren’t in the west!

  4. greatmiamisportsmind - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Tallon doesn’t need to reach the floor, new ownership has given him the green light to spend to the cap. Let’s just hope he doesn’t blow it by signing bad contracts.

  5. 19to77 - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Tallon’s actually made some very smart moves here. Bolland was a bad overpay, fair enough. But in the last few hours Tallon’s added three Cup-winning veterans that play very different roles and are all regarded as locker-room leadership. These guys are there to teach their small army of young players how to win. Younger men like Gudbranson and Ekblad have a lot to pick up from Mitchell and Bolland, while around for too long and too much, is a diehard competitor who brings it every shift. Great role model for their influx of new centres. Tallon’s spending some big money, but it’ll pay off down the road.

    • 19to77 - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      And hell, I even forgot Jussi Jokinen. Not another Cup-winner, but there aren’t many more versatile forwards in the NHL. Another great player to watch and learn from.

    • kaptaanamerica - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      Tallon is doing exactly that, getting character guys to help show the young players what cup winners do and how they carry themselves.

      Willie is a class act.

  6. phtjoey - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    cap issue + age = times to move on for Willie. Good get for the Panthers.

  7. alicesrightfootesq - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Tallinn has done the best he could with the talent avialable to give the kids some veteran presence. I like his moves even if he did over pay for Bolland.

  8. bmoreredfury311 - Jul 1, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Wish the Caps would of signed Mitchell over Orpik.

    • rsl22 - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:29 PM

      Mitchell is 4 years older and still expensive.

  9. lovac2 - Jul 1, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    I see three more people heading to Florida for retirement.

  10. canada2014gold - Jul 2, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    Lovac2. Good point

  11. youngs79 - Jul 2, 2014 at 7:10 AM

    Willie Mitchell is a great guy. Having said that, Florida way over payed for him.

  12. iwt5007 - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:11 AM

  13. purpleguy - Jul 2, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Great guy, good player, but giving a 2 yr contract at over $4M/yr for an injury-prone 37-yr old stay at home defender? Did the Panthers have to reach the salary floor or something?

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