Mueller, a former first-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008, returns to the NHL after playing this past season in Switzerland. The Minnesota native last played in the NHL with the Florida Panthers during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, posting 17 points in 43 games.
While it is clear that Mueller has the skills to play at the NHL level (160 points in 297 NHL games), injuries have sidelined a once promising career. He missed the entire 2010-11 season and much of the 2011-12 season due to concussion issues.
However, after playing an injury free season for Kloten in the Swiss NLA where he scored 46 points in 49 games, Mueller showed that he may finally be healthy. Convinced it was worth a shot, the Blues bought low on Mueller, who now has a chance to revitalize his NHL career.
From the Blues perspective, signing Mueller was the definition of low-risk, high-reward. On a two-way deal, the Blues have an option of sending him to Chicago to start the year if they feel he needs some more seasoning. However, by sending him down, the Blues would be exposing Mueller to waivers.
That begs the question: if Mueller shows flashes of his game being up to speed at the NHL-level this preseason, should the Blues include him on the NHL roster to eliminate any risk of another team claiming him on waivers?
Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch doesn’t seem to think Mueller has much of a chance:
— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) July 29, 2014
Still, if Mueller returns to his pre-injury form, he would be a major asset to the Blues. One of Mueller’s greatest attributes is his ability to quarterback a power play. With a booming shot from the point, he could turn out to be just the tonic to help ail a power play that was downright anemic down the stretch last season.
However, do the Blues want to save a roster spot for a guy who has not proven he can stay healthy at the NHl-level? After all, the Blues now have 30 players under contract with at least one game of NHL experience.
In my opinion, it all comes down to how Mueller looks during training camp. If he proves he can hold up in Ken Hitchcock’s 200-foot system, I believe he will be in the starting lineup for opening night. If he struggles offensively and shies away from physical battles during preseason games, it may make sense to let him start the season in Chicago.
What do you think? Will Peter Mueller make the Blues roster out of training camp? Let us know in the comments section below.