After winning the second Stanley Cup of his career, Willie Mitchell knows he wants to keep playing hockey.
Where he’ll play, though, is less clear.
“I have no idea on that yet,” Mitchell said, per NHL.com. “Ask Dean [Lombardi, Kings GM] about that. There’s lots of moving parts. There’s Willie Mitchell the player. There’s the salary cap. And then, as a GM, you structure the team so hopefully you can have success over a long period of time. So I get it.
“If you’re asking me if I want to play hockey? Hell yeah.”
Mitchell’s value to the Kings can’t be understated. Two years ago, he scored a career-high 24 points and averaged a whopping 25:19 in the playoffs as the Kings won their first ever Cup; after missing the entire 2013 campaign with knee issues, he 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.)
The Kings, though, do have some cap issues.
The 37-year-old Mitchell just wrapped his two-year, $7 million deal and, per NHL.com, is reportedly looking for another two-year pact this time around. It’s safe to assume he’d be looking for similar money, which begs the question — can L.A. give it to him?
The Kings have 18 players under contract for next season at around $57 million, per CapGeek. That leaves around $13 million to fill out the roster and hopefully bring back playoff scoring ace Marian Gaborik, who won’t come cheaply. New deals are also needed for RFAs Dwight King and Linden Vey, and it remains to be seen what L.A. will do with another veteran blueliner in UFA Matt Greene.
As for Mitchell, all he knows is that he wants to keep going.
“To be honest, I think this playoff is probably the best hockey I’ve played,” he said. “I think this one around it felt even better, which, for me, is a big personal accomplishment after missing last year with a couple of knee surgeries.”