There are several difference between the 2013 Los Angeles Kings that were unable to successfully defend the Stanley Cup and the edition that’s currently two wins away from winning its second championship in three years, but the presence of defenseman Willie Mitchell is one of the biggest changes.
Although he typically doesn’t do much offensively, Mitchell’s defensive contributions played a big role in the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup in 2012. He couldn’t help the Kings at all during the 2013 campaign and playoffs though due to a knee injury.
He was sidelined for part of the 2014 postseason as well, but he’s been a significant factor when he’s been healthy. The Kings’ 5-4 double-overtime victory on Saturday was a prime example of that as Mitchell logged 34:14 minutes while also scoring a power-play goal and registering an assist on the game-winning marker.
“Mitch, we missed him last year, him being out,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said after the victory, per LA Kings Insider. “It changed the dynamic of the back end. Where I think he makes a very big difference obviously is his defensive coverage, PK. He’s very hard to play against down low.
“You know, tonight you get an added bonus with him making a difference on the offensive side of the puck. His bread and butter is down low and PK.”
Mitchell admitted that he had difficulty even watching the Kings play in the postseason last year “because it’s like sticking a knife in you.”
Now he doesn’t have to deal with that dilemma and Los Angeles is better for it.
Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.
Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.
Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.
The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.
Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.
It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.
Darryl Sydor, after being let go by the Minnesota Wild, has joined the Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach.
The St. Louis Blues, the parent club of the AHL Wolves, made the announcement Monday. It was also announced that former NHLer Daniel Tkaczuk would join Sydor as an assistant on new head coach Craig Berube’s staff.
Sydor, who won two Stanley Cups as a defenseman, spent five years as an assistant on Mike Yeo’s staff in Minnesota. His time with the Wild was marred by an arrest in 2015 for drunk driving. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and sought treatment.
“I know now that alcoholism is a disease and I’m powerless over alcohol,” he told Kamloops This Week in January. “I can never have a drink again and I’m fine with that.”
Cancel Danny DeKeyser‘s arbitration hearing on Thursday; it won’t be required.
DeKeyser has agreed on a six-year, $30 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings. The 26-year-old defenseman is now locked up through 2021-22.
Next up for GM Ken Holland is goalie Petr Mrazek‘s arbitration hearing tomorrow. That hearing, which came at the club’s request, may actually be necessary.
DeKeyser’s deal, on the other hand, always seemed like it would be the easier of the two to get done via negotiation.
“The player and the club both know what the range would be on a one-year deal,” Holland said recently, per the Detroit Free Press. “We continue to have conversation on a longer-term deal. I’m comfortable we can avoid the process. Danny is Detroit born, he’s happy with his role, happy to be a Red Wing. We are happy with his play.”
DeKeyser had eight goals and 12 assists in 78 games last season, while logging an average ice time of 21:48. As an NHLer, he’s proven why he was such a highly sought-after college free agent, and his new contract reflects that.