If you're anything like me, one of the highlights of the NHL draft coverage on Friday night was hearing Pierre McGuire reveal after each pick that the player taken was exactly who he thought was going to be taken. I am about to do the blogging version of that: I am not at all surprised that Peter Mueller didn't receive a qualifying offer from the Avalanche today.
I've actually been considering a Mueller post since the end of the season (complete with the barely-punny headline above), but never got around to doing it. As a result, I've lost my opportunity to look like a genius. But, since the Avalanche are probably not going to tell us the reason behind letting Mueller go, I can take this opportunity to give my thoughts behind the move (or non-move, as it were).
Popular opinion seems to be that the Avalanche are worried about Mueller's concussion issues, similar to the way they let Tomas Fleischmann walk last summer. Simply put, I'm just not convinced that Peter Mueller is a very good hockey player. Yes, he looked magical in those 15 games back in the spring of 2010. But even then, didn't you get the sense that he was someone who was playing over his head? He was jazzed by the trade, but that kind of momentum couldn't last.
Mueller's career point per game numbers look like this: .67, .50, .54 (this includes those magic 15 games) and .50. You can certainly make a case that the floating, unproductive, contact-averse Peter Mueller that we saw on the ice last year was a player trying to return to form after a terrible injury and long layoff. Well, with those numbers, I can make a case that the floating, unproductive, contact-averse Peter Mueller that we saw on the ice last year was closer to the real Peter Mueller than we all want to admit.
Wojtek Wolski has a career ppg rate of .61. Marek Svatos is at .50. Tyler Arnason had a .60 ppg his first season in Colorado (and got a $1.7 million extension for it) and .50 for his career. Mueller is at .56. Wolski, Svatos and Arnason were all talented offensive players (yes, all of them) who, for whatever reason, did not have the missing ingredient - drive, size, dedication, vision, whatever - to be a great offensive player. And none of them contributed anything in their own zone. Harsh or not, you can say the exact same thing about Peter Mueller. He has skill - a good shot and some pretty moves - but has ONE 20-goal season in his career.
Yes, Mueller is young and could certainly still turn things around; I'll be rooting for him to do just that. But he could just as easily continue to flounder. The Avalanche need to get better and can't pin their hopes that suddenly Mueller is going to figure the game out now, after 250 games. I don't think this is about the medical stuff and I don't think it's about not wanting to pay $2.5 million for his services. I think the Avs believe that Mueller is not good enough to be a top 6 forward for them, plain and simple. And if I may continue to be so bold, I think there is a nice silver lining in this move. I believe this is an indication that the Avalanche will be pursuing a good forward in free agency - someone better than Mueller. Top that, Mr McGuire.
PS Thanks for the shout out, AD. /flashes secret Keene gang sign...