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.