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Who is the next Willie Mitchell?

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12-08-2012, 02:22 AM
  #1
Rorschach
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Who is the next Willie Mitchell?

For those who don't know his story, Mitchell was a shutdown specialist defensemen that Vancouver couldn't or chose not to re-sign. Los Angeles signed him and got approximately 2 times the player they paid for...both a great defensive defenseman and some PMD plus offensive defenseman as well. There have been many times he was the best defenseman on our team, our #1 even better than the vaunted Doughty and Johnson.

Basically no one thought he was THAT good. And he isn't a young guy like Wayne Simmonds who just hadn't played in the NHL yet.

Who is your next player who currently is not particularly highly regarded, defenseman-wise or backup goalie or bottom six player, who is a veteran but may break out and surprise everyone?


Last edited by Rorschach: 12-08-2012 at 03:53 AM. Reason: Changed "bottom-pairing"
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12-08-2012, 02:38 AM
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The Produce Man
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Willie Mitchell was never a bottom pairing defenseman in Vancouver. He usually was on the top pairing with Kevin Bieksa. The only reason the Canucks and him didn't come to a contract renewal was because of the lingering concussion issue he was battling. He wanted more years then Vancouver was willing to offer as our blue liners rarely stay healthy as it is.

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12-08-2012, 02:40 AM
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WinterEmpire
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What? Willie Mitchell was never a bottom pairing defenseman in Vancouver. He was the team's best defensive dman and constantly played tons of hard minutes. Everyone has always known he was that good, not the first time he played at a high level.

His concussion + the acquisition of Hamhuis led to him not finding a way to resign in Vancouver

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12-08-2012, 02:41 AM
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FTR, what you said isn't really true. Mitchell was our top defensive d-man before he was let go of and averaged 23 minutes/game, just a few seconds shy of leading the team in ice time in a couple of instances. GMMG didn't want to give him term due to his concussion problems so he was let go of upon the acquisition of Ballard. Maybe you were surprised, but Canucks fans expected great hockey from him if he stayed healthy and he delivered.

With that said, I think Armstrong will become popular again now that he got a pay cut and look forward to threads about him in the main boards.

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12-08-2012, 02:43 AM
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I'm not sure Mitchell is a good example. As far as I know, he was highly regarded in his last few years with Vancouver, until he got a concussion. During summer HF polls, he was ranked as a top 35 d-man for two years in a row. He was well known before coming to LA.

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12-08-2012, 02:44 AM
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Leafs87
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I think Mitchell was always more then a bottom pairing defenceman, but I do get the point.

I can really see Jim slater being a top 6 power forward type player if he ever left Winnipeg

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12-08-2012, 02:45 AM
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Kyle Brodziak started showing signs of this in Minnesota last season. He might break out whenever NHL returns, as we finally have some depth. He's a hard worker, does all of the right things and has underrated hockey IQ & passing. I can't help but think that he's going to be a stud when we make the playoffs.

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12-08-2012, 02:54 AM
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I can see this happening with Ryan Whitney and the Oilers, not necessarily break out but have a couple injury free seasons if his ankle is back.

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12-08-2012, 02:56 AM
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Keeping it in Vancouver, I think that Keith Ballard will do significantly better when he eventually leaves the Canucks. And no, this isn't just a lead-in to a Keith Ballard+Mason Raymond trade proposal

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12-08-2012, 03:03 AM
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JetsAlternate
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Mitchell was often relied upon by the Canucks to shut down the opposing team's top players. Many felt Mitchell should have been kept by the Canucks, but his concussion in early 2010 caused concern about his health and longevity in the league.

This blog entry, written in August 2010, sums up Mitchell's contributions to the team during his tenure with Vancouver:

http://canuckshockeyblog.com/?p=4053

Quote:
More importantly, the Canucks are going to miss Willie. In him, the Canucks had a true shutdown defenseman would could log 25-plus minutes against the likes of Crosby, Ovechkin, Iginla, Thornton, etc. – in the last four years, no one else on this team played tougher minutes against the opposing teams’ best players and did so on a nightly basis. They had a veteran leader who was a calming influence on the ice and a positive influence off it. He was good with the media and active in the community. The Canucks really couldn’t have asked more from him as a player and it’ll be interesting to see who among the new core of defensemen – Hamhuis, Ballard, Edler and Ehrhoff – can step in (or step up) to that role.
Here's an NHL.com article from April 30, 2009 recognizing Mitchell's importance to the Canucks' defense:

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=420845

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Willie Mitchell, Vancouver Canucks -- He doesn't dazzle with end-to-end rushes or quarterback the power play, but there's no mistaking defenseman Willie Mitchell's importance to the success of the Vancouver Canucks. Mitchell, 32, gets a lot of ice time -- he led the Canucks and ranked seventh among all first-round playoff participants with a per-game average of 25:46 -- and they are "hard" minutes, matching up against the opponent's best players and killing penalties.

Mitchell in fact led the NHL in shorthanded ice time per game in the first round (5:03), helping the Canucks shut down a St. Louis Blues power play that ranked eighth in the League during the regular season (20.5 percent). The Blues went 1-for-24 in the series, including 0-for-7 in Vancouver's 3-2 overtime win in Game 4 that completed the first sweep of a best-of-7 series in the 39-year history of the franchise.

If that wasn't enough, Mitchell provided some unexpected offense in the series-clinching victory. He assisted on both of Alex Burrows' goals, including the game-winner with 18.9 seconds left in the first overtime period.

In his 538 regular-season games with New Jersey, Minnesota, Dallas and Vancouver, Mitchell has only 15 goals and 92 assists. Entering Game 4, he had only 1 goal and 6 assists in 38 career playoff games.

"See, I told you I had skill," Mitchell joked with reporters.

"This is where experience comes in," Mitchell said. "In the playoffs, it's a battle. A battle of attrition. A mental battle. Battling for an inch … game after game.
Mitchell was arguably the team's top defenseman throughout his tenure here. The defense, for the most part, consisted of Mattias Ohlund, Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo, Alex Edler, Shane O'Brien, and Kevin Bieksa, amongst others. Mitchell and Ohlund led the group between 2006 and 2009, as neither Edler nor Bieksa were as highly regarded as they are now. When Ohlund signed with Tampa in 2009, Mitchell became the leader of the team's defensive group. He was expected to shut down the opponent's superstars. It was assumed every night that coach Vigneault would have him contain such players as Alex Ovechkin, Marian Gaborik, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, as well as the league's other top players.

In fact, many Canucks fans attributed the team's loss of the 2010 Western Conference Semifinals to the loss of Willie Mitchell from the lineup due to injury. He was an essential part of the defense, and taking him out of the equation affected the team in a hugely negative way that year.


Last edited by JetsAlternate: 12-08-2012 at 03:29 AM.
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Old
12-08-2012, 03:07 AM
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Thanks guys, both for the update and those getting my "gist."

I think bottom pairing is the wrong way to describe him...maybe 4th defensemen is...he was more like a stay at home guy, complimentary to the #1 or #2 PMD instead of the two-way wiz he is now...highly respected as maybe the unnamed captain of LA's vaunted D corps.

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12-08-2012, 03:11 AM
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Willie Mitchell was never as high regarded as he is now, but always considered a good stay at home guy as long as I've had a close watch on the league. I don't remember him being thought of as a third pairing guy ever during the last seven years. I'll give you that he's picked up his game a little bit offensively since though.

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12-08-2012, 03:14 AM
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WTFetus
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He wasn't a #4 either though. He was a solid top-pairing defensive defenseman in Vancouver and the league knew it. It seems like you're trying to make it sound like LA signed some bottom-pairing turd that no one wanted and it turned into gold, when that wasn't the case. Tons of teams were interested in Mitchell, LA just gave the best offer term wise because teams were afraid of his injury issues.

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12-08-2012, 03:36 AM
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You could argue that he already is a top-pairing defender right now, but I believe Braydon Coburn still has the potential to develop into the force he was projected to be earlier. Playing 25min+ being dominant in his own end while contributing offensively on a decent pace. He'll get every chance when the game returns on this Flyers defense.

Same could be said about Meszaros, too, btw.

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12-08-2012, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WTFetus View Post
He wasn't a #4 either though. He was a solid top-pairing defensive defenseman in Vancouver and the league knew it. It seems like you're trying to make it sound like LA signed some bottom-pairing turd that no one wanted and it turned into gold, when that wasn't the case. Tons of teams were interested in Mitchell, LA just gave the best offer term wise because teams were afraid of his injury issues.
Well we gave him like 3 mil a year so I knew he wasn't junk but he plays like a 5 or 6 mil defenseman now.

I'll just edit my post...

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12-08-2012, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Rorschach View Post

Basically no one thought he was THAT good. And he isn't a young guy like Wayne Simmonds who just hadn't played in the NHL yet.
You conveniently forgot that he was a top 4 defenseman with Minnesota and played a crucial role in their 2002-2003 playoff run and was taught by one of the greatest coaches in the modern era; Jacques Lemaire. Mitchell was always considered to be a solid defenseman. Concussions derailed his career a little but but to say no one thought he was THAT good is a bit of a lie.

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12-08-2012, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by the8bandarmadillo View Post
You conveniently forgot that he was a top 4 defenseman with Minnesota and played a crucial role in their 2002-2003 playoff run and was taught by one of the greatest coaches in the modern era; Jacques Lemaire. Mitchell was always considered to be a solid defenseman. Concussions derailed his career a little but but to say no one thought he was THAT good is a bit of a lie.
Wild fans of all people know how good Mitchell is.

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12-08-2012, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Paranoid Android View Post
I'm not sure Mitchell is a good example. As far as I know, he was highly regarded in his last few years with Vancouver, until he got a concussion. During summer HF polls, he was ranked as a top 35 d-man for two years in a row. He was well known before coming to LA.
This. Most Kings fans knew how good he was when he signed with LA, despite what the OP stated.

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12-08-2012, 05:37 AM
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Vancouver took some scrub #3 dman in Dan Hamhuis and turned him into a #1

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12-08-2012, 01:02 PM
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I think what op is trying to say, is that Mitchell was a good player, but is currently playing the best hockey of his career at such an old age

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12-08-2012, 01:19 PM
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12-08-2012, 01:32 PM
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I think what op is trying to say, is that Mitchell was a good player, but is currently playing the best hockey of his career at such an old age
I think that's what he is trying to say indeed. Mitchell definitely had one of his best seasons, perhaps the best.

Some people really act like a ****.

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12-08-2012, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by sw1tch View Post
I think what op is trying to say, is that Mitchell was a good player, but is currently playing the best hockey of his career at such an old age
Old age? Most defenceman play their best hockey around Mitchell's age. I think d-men usually hit their prime around 32 and that's exactly the age Mitchell was when he came over to LA.

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12-08-2012, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Rorschach View Post
For those who don't know his story, Mitchell was a shutdown specialist defensemen that Vancouver couldn't or chose not to re-sign.
Wouldn't offer him more than 1 year. L.A. did.

Quote:
Los Angeles signed him and got approximately 2 times the player they paid for...
They paid $3.5m/yr.. So you're suggesting Mitchell has played like a $7m defenseman?

Quote:
both a great defensive defenseman and some PMD plus offensive defenseman as well.
Mitchell is not, has never been, and won't ever be an offensive or 'puck moving' defenseman. His job is to get the puck to his partner and let them move it up ice.

Quote:
There have been many times he was the best defenseman on our team, our #1 even better than the vaunted Doughty and Johnson.
Being better than Johnson is easy. Career AHLers are better than him.

Quote:
Basically no one thought he was THAT good. And he isn't a young guy like Wayne Simmonds who just hadn't played in the NHL yet.
No, people knew he was good. He was pretty injury prone, but widely regarded as a solid defenseman and a clear cut top-4 on any team in the league.

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12-08-2012, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Frolov 6'3 View Post
I think that's what he is trying to say indeed. Mitchell definitely had one of his best seasons, perhaps the best.

Some people really act like a ****.
Maybe but would you take the 2002-2003 Minnesota Wild team over the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Kings team?

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