Stars fortify defense, get Mitchell from Wild

Updated: March 9, 2006, 5:27 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- The division-leading Dallas Stars bolstered their defense for the stretch run Thursday by acquiring defenseman Willie Mitchell from the Minnesota Wild.

The 6-3, 205-pound Mitchell helped Minnesota reach the Western Conference finals in 2003, leading the club in plus-minus rating and ice time. To get him, and a second-round pick in the 2007 draft, the Stars sent defensemen Martin Skoula and Shawn Belle to the Wild.

"Willie is a veteran player who upgrades the depth of our defensive corps," Stars general manager Doug Armstrong said. "He plays a solid defensive game and will be a good fit for our hockey club as we prepare for the 2006 playoffs and a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup."

Mitchell is expected to join the Stars in time to play Vancouver on Saturday night. How long he remains with the club could be an issue -- he's an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Mitchell was leading Minnesota with a plus-15 rating over 64 games this season. He also had eight points (two goals, six assists) and 87 penalty minutes, plus served as the team's captain in December and January.

For his 306-game career, he has nine goals, 50 assists, a plus-29 rating and 362 penalty minutes.

Skoula, who joined Dallas as a free agent in August, had four goals, 11 assists and 36 penalty minutes in 61 games this season. The 20-year-old Belle was playing for Iowa of the AHL.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press