Player evaluation: Mitchell
This season: 76 games, 5 goals, 19 assists, plus-20 rating.
The good: The Kings signed Mitchell two years ago to a two-year contract, not knowing exactly what to expect, given that Mitchell was coming off a serious concussion. At this point, the argument could be made that Mitchell has been the best free-agent signing of Dean Lombardi’s tenure. Mitchell has filled a huge role for the Kings and done it superbly. He’s a big-minute, stay-at-home defenseman who is also a big part of the Kings’ success on the penalty kill. Mitchell, 35, has also taken on the role of elder statesman on defense. He guided Drew Doughty for a while, and was beloved by partner Slava Voynov this season.
The bad: Mitchell likes to play a physical game, but at times he has a tendency to take questionable, ill-timed penalties. He needs to watch that carefully, particularly because he is such an important part of the penalty-kill unit. Beyond that, Mitchell’s only real enemy at this point is Father Time. He just signed a two-year contract extension, but he’s 35 years old with a history of injuries, both nagging and major. Will he be able to stay relatively healthy for two more seasons? He’s such a big part of what the Kings accomplish defensively that they would be in rather big trouble without Mitchell in the lineup for an extended period.
Going forward: If Mitchell is able to give the Kings two more seasons identical to the past two, they will be very happy. Mitchell is as solid as they come, on and off the ice, and will continue to play a big part in the development of Voynov, who seems to look up to Mitchell as a Canadian big brother. Mitchell doesn’t wear a letter on his jersey, but he’s unquestionably part of the Kings’ leadership group. It was no accident that when captain Dustin Brown got his hands on the Stanley Cup, the first person he handed it to was Mitchell. The Kings know what Mitchell has done for them, and they hope he can keep doing it.