Last July, Florida Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon raised eyebrows when he signed forward Tomas Fleischmann to a big contract – considering many General Managers across the league chose to stand back; undecided whether or not to sign the injured forward. But, as Tallon had anticipated, Fleischmann turned out to be just what he wanted – a decent first line winger playing alongside Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg. This season, Tallon is once again rolling the dice in hopes that he can find the same success in Peter Mueller.
Shining Star Shines Out
Mueller was drafted 8th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft after scoring 21 goals and 78 points in 51 games for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. In Mueller’s first NHL season he scored 22 goals and added 32 assists in 81 games for the Coyotes – easily showing signs of a positive direction for the young forward, just as expected by the club. Ironically, that would prove to be his best season in a Coyotes uniform as his point totals continued to decline ever since.
On March 3rd, 2010 Mueller was dealt with Kevin Porter to the Colorado Avalanche for Wojtek Wolski. Fortunately for Mueller it appears as though a change of scenery would be just what the doctor ordered as he went on to score nine goals and 20 points in just 15 games with the Avs. But, as fate would have it, Mueller suffered a concussion in training camp the following September and would go on to miss the whole 82-game schedule. During the 2011-2012 season, Mueller would return, but only to play 32 games for the Avalanche, accumulating 16 points.
Diamond In The Rough No Stranger To Panthers
If Mueller were to pan out for the Florida Panthers, it would not be a surprise to fans as Tomas Fleischmann proved to be a steal from the same Colorado Avalanche team just last offseason. While with Colorado in 2011, Fleischmann was diagnosed with pulmonary emboli on January 20th and would miss the remainder of the season after scoring 21 points in 22 games. Due to the extent and seriousness of the injury, not only did Fleischmann think his likeliness of being signed by a club was small, but returning to hockey altogether appeared to be a question mark.
Luckily for Fleischmann, Dale Tallon would offer him a massive 4-year 18 Million dollar contract; which ultimately would pay off with big rewards for both sides as Fleischmann would go on to set career highs in both goals (27) and points (61) while playing all 82 games with the Panthers.
Where Does Mueller Fit?
Evidentially, barring an injury Mueller would not earn first line ice time with the Panthers just like Fleischmann did, but the potential is still there to return to form. However, if an injury or shakeup is needed to be made to the lineup, Panthers Head Coach Kevin Dineen would not be afraid to insert the 6 foot 2, 209 pound forward onto the first line. The versatility of Mueller can be useful next season as he is able to play all three positions up front.
Even if Mueller doesn’t crack the first line, it is almost guaranteed that he would be placed on the second line potentially with Panthers’ prospect Jonathan Huberdeau. There, Mueller will be able to feed the puck off the wing to the young sniper in attempt to help Florida score more goals – something which the team struggled with last season.
Finally, if Mueller doesn’t work out he is only signed to a 1-year 1.725 million dollar contract with the Panthers – signifying that this is his chance to step up, or be send packing.
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