2010 NHL free agency: Kings sign Willie Mitchell, 2 years $7 million

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Thumbnail image for williemitchellcelebrates.jpgThe Willie Mitchell saga is finally at an end and the winner of the pursuit is a team that finally isn’t playing the part of bridesmaid this summer.

The Los Angeles Kings signed the big defenseman today to a two-year $7 million deal, working out to be mathematically neat $3.5 million cap hit the next two seasons. According to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times, the Kings were the only team to offer Mitchell a two-year contract. Considering the kind of money the Kings are ponying up for him, adding another year makes signing with the Kings an elementary decision.

We discussed a couple weeks ago what Mitchell could mean to the Kings and for them he provides a defensive shut-down player. With Matt Greene rehabbing from off-season surgery, adding Mitchell makes things a lot less shaky along the blue line. Mitchell will also help provide some leadership for budding stars Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson as well as for up and coming rookie Thomas Hickey. Mitchell along with Rob Scuderi give the Kings a defensive presence to help balance out the offensive skills of Doughty and Johnson as well as making up for the loss of plus/minus maven Sean O’Donnell.

Signing Mitchell also means that the summer hasn’t been a complete loss for the Kings. While they missed out getting Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis, Mitchell, provided he stays healthy, is a great fall-back option to have. Sure losing out on Ilya Kovalchuk and landing Alexei Ponikarovsky doesn’t really make for a great trade-off, but with Mitchell they’ve made up for missing out on Martin and Hamhuis with a classic defensive defenseman.

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

Jordan Weal to make NHL debut for Kings

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Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.

Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.

A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.

“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”

The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.

Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap