The Florida Panthers have announced the signing of D Willie Mitchell on a two-year contract worth $8.5m. Mitchell is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, both with the Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014). The 6’3″, 205 lbs. blueliner is not only the first defenseman of the day to be signed by the Panthers, but fits the bill for the veteran defenseman Dale Tallon was looking for.
A young Panthers blueline including Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulikov, Dylan Olsen and the 2014 First Overall Pick, Aaron Ekblad can learn a lot from the 37-year old Mitchell as he will fill the role of the elder statesman that Ed Jovanovski leaves behind. Coming off of a Stanley Cup victory where he was a big part of their backend, Mitchell silenced critics after missing the lockout shortened 2012-13 season following knee surgery. The 2013-14 season for Mitchell was a solid one where the shutdown style defenseman finished with a plus-14 rating and 12 points (1-11-12).
Well known for his leadership qualities, Mitchell brings not only over a decade of experience but also the capability to kill penalties. Mitchell led the Kings with 128 blocked shots and finished fourth in Time on Ice averaging 20:19 per game.