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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    Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

    Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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    Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

    Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

    The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

    A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

    With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

    Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

    Robin Lehner
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    Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

    Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

    When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

    “It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

    It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

    While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.