Peter Mueller and the Avalanche still struggling to make a deal

petermueller1.jpgWaiting on restricted free agents to come to terms with their teams is a bit of an arduous process. Some teams don’t have the cap space they’d hope to to make a signing while others are sticking to a budget when looking to sign a player back. Other times, it comes down to differences of opinion on what a player is worth. Welcome to the world of Peter Mueller and the Colorado Avalanche.

The two sides have yet to come together on a deal and while details are lacking on how the negotiation is going, Adrian Dater of All Things Avs at The Denver Post poses the question about just how much could Mueller be worth considering his relatively short audition with the Avs last season and his health questions.

Yet, we all know Mueller had a highly productive 15 games with the Avs, posting 20 points and rejuvenating the power play. And we know he is a former top-10 NHL draft pick who had a very good rookie season for the Coyotes. He’s shown he can produce at this level. And we know, just because of how the system works, that Mueller is comparatively underpaid at his last salary of $850,000. I mean, Daniel Winnik is making more than that with the Avs now.

But we also know health factors into a team’s decision in deciding which players to give long-term, big contracts. We know Mueller has at least two documented concussions now which have kept him out of action. The more you get, the worse the long-term ramifications become, and often the longer the player is sidelined with the next one. Every player is one big hit away from a serious concussion, but those with histories of getting them, the more you worry.

So, what’s he worth? If the Avs were already at the cap floor, this would be a tougher question to answer. But since they’re not, the obvious answer seems to be “At least $2.1 million for 2010-11 anyway.” Done deal. What’s the holdup?

If the Avalanche are going to repeat the success they had last year, getting a full season out of Mueller, who was traded for Wojtek Wolski at the deadline last season, and having him continue to be productive would take some of the pressure off of youngsters Matt Duchene and Chris Stewart.

If Mueller is still struggling from the concussion he received at the end of last season, then that’s another issue entirely and one that muddies up the discussion over how much to pay the man. Considering how Mueller’s final days in Phoenix went, haggling too much with the Avs over money (if that is the case) might not be sending the right message to his new-ish team.

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    Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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    The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

    Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

    Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

    A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

    Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

    He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

    Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

    Spicy stuff.

    For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

    For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

    Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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    Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

    OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

    It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

    Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

    In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

    Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

    That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

    Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

    For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

    Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

    graphic via NHL
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    It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

    The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

    “It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

    The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

    Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

    Alrighty then.

    Click here for more details.

     

    Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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    Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

    Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

    Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

    We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.