The combination of a Willie Mitchell(notes) bidding war and Vancouver's additions to their salary cap this summer of Keith Ballard(notes) and Dan Hamhuis(notes) did not help his chances of returning to the Canucks. Those chances died this afternoon as Mitchell agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal with the Los Angeles Kings.
And as the LA Times' Helene Elliott reports, the Kings were the only team to offer Mitchell more than a one-year deal, which makes this move by GM Dean Lombardi a risky one -- especially at $3.5 million a season -- but one that could provide a high reward should he prove healthy over the term.
The 33-year old Mitchell will be a good mentor for young Drew Doughty(notes) and Jack Johnson(notes) on the Kings' blueline and is an upgrade over Sean O'Donnell(notes). Mitchell has been a plus player for seven straight seasons and if partnered with Rob Scuderi(notes), could provide a solid shutdown pairing for Los Angeles.
Having begun skating a month earlier than usual, Mitchell said earlier this week that he feels fine and has cleared numerous hurdles to prove his health, but his recovery from a concussion suffered last January is the reason a giant question mark will hover over him.
Mitchell won't even have to wait long to see his former teammates as the Kings will visit the Canucks on Saturday, October 9th, Vancouver's home opener.