Panthers add Mitchell to free-agent haul


The Sports Network

Sunrise, FL ( - The Florida Panthers continued to be one of the most active teams on the opening day of the NHL's free agency period, with the rebuilding club making veteran defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup champion Willie Mitchell their latest acquisition on Tuesday.

Mitchell, who turned 37 in April, returned from a serious knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2012-13 campaign to play in 76 regular-season games for the Los Angeles Kings this past year, notching a goal and 11 assists while finishing with a plus-14 rating on the ice.

The battle-tested blueliner then saw action in 18 postseason tests to help the Kings claim their second Stanley Cup in three years. Mitchell was also part of Los Angeles' 2011-12 championship squad.

"Willie is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion who adds leadership and a veteran presence on our blue line," said Panthers vice president and GM Dale Tallon. "He is a high character, hardworking player who will be counted upon to help develop our younger defensemen both on and off the ice."

Mitchell is one of six free agents to bolt other teams and join the Panthers on Tuesday. Earlier, the club inked ex-Toronto center Dave Bolland to a reported five-year, $27.5 million deal and former Pittsburgh forward Jussi Jokinen to a four-year contract believed to be worth $4 million per season.

The Panthers also agreed to terms with veteran forwards Derek MacKenzie and Shawn Thornton as well as goaltender Al Montoya, who is expected to challenge for the No. 2 netminder's position behind Roberto Luongo.

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