The Kings have signed defenseman Willie Mitchell to a two-year deal worth $3.5 million, according to Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider. The signing bolsters the Kings' penalty kill and should provide stability to a defensive unit that recently lost Matt Greene for the start of the season.â†µ
My initial thoughts? This is great, great news. Willie Mitchell is a great person and a great defensive defenseman. He was tagged with a concussion last January that kept him off the ice through the rest of the season and the playoffs. Mitchell has been symptom-free for a few months now, though, and hopefully the effects of the concussion are gone. When healthy, Mitchell provides a toughness that the rest of the defense lacks.â†µ
Off the top of my head, the person that benefits from this signing is Jack Johnson. Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty formed a great first pairing last season but the Kings suffered from a lack of a solid second pairing that could threaten the opposition offensively and defensively. Pairing Jack Johnson with Willie Mitchell gives Johnson a safety net that will allow him to roam a little more, something with which he is very comfortable. A top four of Scuderi-Doughty and Johnson-Mitchell is a nice mix of defense and offense and means the Kings have the best top-four in the Pacific Division.â†µ
Overall, the signing has risks; signing a 30+ player coming off a concussion has potential to blow up in Dean Lombardi's face. If Mitchell can stay healthy, though, the Kings make out like bandits. Mitchell is a younger, better version of Sean O'Donnell; even better, he reminds me of Mattias Norstrom. Hopefully Mitchell can live up to that lofty standard.