Stars fortify defense, get Mitchell from Wild

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.