What's So Good About Willie?

Joseph TrentonAnalyst IIIAugust 8, 2010

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 22: Willie Mitchell #8 of the Vancouver Canucks leaves the ice after taking part in the pre-game skate prior to NHL action against the Nashville Predators on December 22, 2009 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

This week, Canucks fans and the rest of the hockey fans paying attention should have a better clue as to where defenseman Willie Mitchell will play hockey next season. Willie Mitchell is born and raised in Port McNeill across the Georgia Strait on Vancouver Island. Being a long-time Vancouver Canucks fan, growing up loving hockey, Willie Mitchell was very pleased to join the Canucks back on July 1, 2006. General Manager at the time, Dave Nonis, was probably more pleased to sign Mitchell than Mitchell himself joining the hockey club, as Vancouver has had countless nightmares of Mitchell absolutely shutting down their offensive stars. That list included 2003 playoffs where Mitchell shadowed a red hot Todd Bertuzzi coming off a stellar 97 point season. The Wild went on to pass the Canucks on to the next round of playoffs.

To give you some numbers, Mitchell was signed to a 4-year deal worth 14 million dollars at the time averaging $3.5mil a year, quite a bargain for a serviceable top-4 defenseman today. In his 4-years with the Canucks, he has put up consistent stats, with steady incline:

22-23 minute time-on-ice annually.

+49 in +/- rating, all +'s each year.

58 points in 262 games, despite being the shutdown D.

Block shot leader on the team, 434 in 4 year span.

At 33 years of age, and post-concussion, teams around the league wonder about how much gas remains in Willie's tank. There are reports that Mitchell has regained his health.

"I've got a big part of my life back," Mitchell said from Minnesota, where he and his wife, Megan, spend much of the offseason. "I have no uncertainty; I want to play hockey. It took a little longer than I expected [to recover], but I'm looking forward to next season. I'm really excited. I feel normal again."
Mitchell said he met with Canuck general manager Mike Gillis one week ago and characterized their conversation as "encouraging." ~June 26
Mitchell's agent, Mike Liut, is also Mike Modano's agent, and as such, he and Red Wings GM Ken Holland have talked about the possibility of Mitchell joining the Wings:
"The Red Wings, they’re one of the teams,” Liut told Sporting News. “Everybody is interested in the Red Wings.”
According to CapGeek.com, the Red Wings have $1.6 million in cap space. Mitchell made $3.5 million last year.

“As we go here, it’s got to add up to $59.5 (million),” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Sporting News. “Yeah, we’ve got decisions to make but we think they’re good decisions to make.” ~Saturday, Aug.6.
Here are the list of the potential suitors known to the public: Vancouver, Detroit, San Jose, and Washington
The price tag expected to come with Willie should be somewhere in the $2 million range. Very affordable.

If I am the Vancouver Canucks General Manager, I would undoubtedly re-sign Mitchell for 3 or 4 more seasons, just so my goalie Roberto and I can sleep well at night.

Thank you for reading.


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