The Florida Panthers promised to be busy during free agency and yesterday they kept their promise as they added 6 players to the roster. The players included Willie Mitchell, Al Montoya, Shawn Thornton, Jussi Jokinen, Derek MacKenzie and Dave Bolland. These players bring in a nice combo of skill, toughness, veteran leadership and playoff experience that will be very valuable to our young team. Signing these guys also adds depth that will allow the younger players like, Vincent Trocheck and Quinton Howden to fine-tune their skills further before making the jump to the big club. Lets take a look at each of the signings individually and grade them. First up in this post we have the rugged defenceman, Willie Mitchell.
Willie Mitchell – 2 year contract worth $8.5 million – Grade A
- The Mitchell signing is a great one for the young Panthers blue-line that consists of 4 players under the age of 25. Mitchell will be a terrific mentor for guys like Aaron Ekblad and Erik Gudbranson and his mentoring skills and veteran prescence will take some of the load off of Brian Campbell, who before the signing was the only D-man on the roster over the age of 24. Mitchell’s stats don’t jump off the page but his defensive abilities are terrific. His career +/- is +120 and during last season alone he was a +14 , he’s a great shot blocker with 128 this past season, and he isn’t afraid to get physical as he recorded 102 hits for the Kings last year. Compared to the Panthers roster last year that would put him 1st on the team in blocks, 1st in +/-, and in the top ten in hits. Some people are complaining that “Ah! he’s old!” or “He’s gonna be another Jovonavski”, but if you watched the Stanley Cup Playoffs you probably noticed how big of a factor Mitchell was in the Kings playoff run. He has a lot left in the tank folks for a 37 year old. Another thing that jumped out to me is that he wants to be here and be part of the solution when it comes to getting back into the playoffs.
“I will now be taking my talents to South beach” Let’s do this @FlaPanthers! #playoffsrcoming – Willie Mitchell on Twitter.
Heres an updated look at the defensive depth chart with Mitchell in the fold and assuming restricted free agents Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov re-sign and that our 1st overall pick Aaron Ekblad signs.
|Brian Campbell||Willie Mitchell|
|Dmitry Kulikov||Erik Gudbranson|
|Aaron Ekblad||Dylan Olsen|
|Colby Robak (Healthy Scratch)|
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