Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchellis expected to miss some portion of the 2013-14 regular season due to continued issues with his knee, according to general manager Dean Lombardi on Wednesday.
Mitchell recently underwent an additional knee surgery, which will force the 35-year-old blue liner to miss the remainder of the 2013 season. Lombardi stated in an interview with Mayor's Manor that some developments have occurred that potentially could jeopardize his ability to play next season, via Mayor's Manor:
"Let's just say now that [missing next season] is possible, where I wouldn't have thought it possible [before]," Lombardi said. "We always thought, okay, well if we don't get him back this year, this isn't serious. But apparently some other things might've shown up. Until I get the whole story, I probably should hold off."
Mitchell is currently signed to a two-year, $7 million contract that carries an annual average value of $3.5 million against the salary cap. Los Angeles will be limited in how they handle the deal, as Mitchell was over-35 when he signed the contract, which holds the Kings accountable for the cap-hit regardless of his ability to play or potentially retire (hasn't been discussed).
In addition, they won't be able to use a compliance buyout because players on injured reserve aren't eligible. However, if the Kings were in need of salary cap relief, they could place Mitchell on long-term injured reserve.
Mitchell averaged the second most minutes per game amongst Kings defenseman during the 2011-12 regular season (22:13), which included an average of 3:35 on the penalty kill, the most on the team.