Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. When judging talent, or how a player fits into an environment there are always risks. General managers of professional sports teams take risks all the time. Some more than others, but not many take the risks that Dale Tallon does. While I wouldn’t say that Dale shoots from the hip, I will say that for the most part he’s not afraid to take a gamble here and there. And to be quite blunt, his track record is pretty solid for the most part. With the recent signing of Peter Mueller Dale shows once again that he’s willing to give a player an opportunity to perform to their potential, provided they’re willing to work for it.
Many are saying that signing Mueller is a risk , and that’s based upon Mueller missing over 50 games last season while with the Colorado Avalanche for concussion and groin symptoms. Tallon however sees this signing differently, and admits that the Florida Panthers did their due diligence on this player prior to signing him, and were willing to ink him to a one year deal for $1.725 million dollars. As Dale spoke to the media on Thursday, this is what he said about the talented forward:
“I hope to get him back to what he was a rookie,” Tallon said on a conference call Thursday after giving the oft-injured Mueller a one-year, $1.75 million contract. “He seems to be revitalized, and we did our due diligence. We brought him in here and checked him out from toes to nose, and everything checked out fine. He understands this is a great opportunity for him. He’s a top-six forward. He has size and skill, and he’s still young. It’s well worth the risk for us to sign him to a one-year deal and hope he gets back to what he was before he was injured.”
While Mueller hasn’t had a healthy and complete season in the past three plus years, it appears after the complete examination by the Panthers medical team that the 24 year old winger is ready and looking forward to being a major contributor this coming season. A former first round pick in 2006, Mueller has the potential to become a very effective top six forward on a Florida Panthers’ team that is starving (not desperate as in the past) for offence. If Mueller can hit the 25 plus goal plateau and play a complete season at the same time, the Panthers will be huge winners in this deal. We could imagine the top six forwards looking like this:
Versteeg Weiss Fleischmann
Upshall Mueller Huberdeau
If Upshall is completely healthy, and Huberdeau makes the team, which I have to believe that he does, this second line could be the surprise unit of the team. Mueller was originally drafted as a center, but has been moved to the wing position, therefore showing his versatility. I’m not at all indicating that these top six are the only way I think we’ll line up, but there’s a good chance it may look this way provided no other moves are made.
Mueller is hoping that the fresh start with the Panthers, although his third team in his young career, is just what the doctor ordered for him to get his game back, and prove that he is the talent that the Phoenix Coyotes thought he was.
“I’m just looking for a fresh start — obviously it’s no secret with my past,” Mueller said. “As I spoke to Dale, he’s basically told me what he’s expecting out of me and I’m expecting a lot personally from myself. I’m coming in here with a great attitude and just ready to rock and roll this coming season.”
In his rookie season with the Coyotes Mueller played in the young stars game, and prior to that was named the Rookie of the Year in the WHL (2005-2006) and won the Top Draft Prospect Award that same season. In 51 games for the Everitt Slivertips in 2006-2007, Mueller scored 78 points (21g-57a) and in 2005-2006 he scored 58 points in 52 games. The talent and scoring ability are there, as he showed in his rookie season with Phoenix when he scored 22 goals and had 32 assists for 54 points in 81 games. He’s also a big body at 6′ 2″ and 204 lbs. Size is another commodity that he’ll bring, and up front, we need that.
The signing comes on the heels of another player that Tallon took a chance on that didn’t work out. Wojtek Wolksi who signed Wednesday with the Washington Capitals for $600,000 was given basically a 22 game trial with the Panthers that didn’t work in his favor. That Wolski wasn’t qualified at $3.8 million as a restricted free agent, and that he’s accepted an offer at roughly 16% of his previous salary shows that his stock has decreased significantly. The signing of Mueller is a low risk hi reward manuever that could conceiveably become a bigger deal in the future. Diamonds in the rough. Dale is not afraid to find them, as he has proved time and time again including last season with the signing ot Tomas Fleischmann. Flash who suffers from deep vein thrombosis, a blood disorder that requried him to wear a special rubber suit when he travels. Fleischmann led the Panthers in scoring in 2011-2012, and if Mueller can even come close to 50 points or so, it will be a bargain.
The signing also keeps the Panthers on the younger side rather than chasing after an aging veteran as has happened so many times in the past. The most recent previous management would never have taken the chances on players that Dale has simply for fear of failing. You need to be able to take a risk once in awhile, and unless you take those, you’ll never know what would have happened. Old reliable has it’s place, but the problem is that they are old. Nothing wrong with mixing those players in, however, a move like this one can be refreshing for both sides.
Mueller is also known for possessing a good and accurate shot, and we may see him getting power play time not only at wing, but setting up on the point as well. His flexibility gives the Panthers a chance to have a couple different looks. I see no reason but to look positively at this move, and trust in Dale that once again he’s taken the chance that others weren’t willing to.
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