Immediately after Peter Mueller was traded from the Phoenix Coyotes to the Colorado Avalanche for Wojtek Wolski, it seemed like the change of scenery would create a happy ending for everyone involved.
Mueller finally showed why he was the eighth overall pick of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by scoring 20 points in his 15 games with the Avs, helping them make a surprising run to the playoffs in 2010. Wolski was impressive in his own right, scoring 18 points in 18 games to help the Coyotes clinch a postseason berth in 2009-10 as well.
Sadly enough, it seems like rushing to a positive judgment proved to be hasty in both cases. Wolski’s problems seem a bit more self-inflicted; he quickly wore out his welcome with Phoenix until he was shipped to the New York Rangers, a team that already seems tired of him.
Mueller’s issues seem like they’re tinged with a bit more bad luck. A hard check by Rob Blake ended his breakthrough run before the 2009-10 season and another concussion late in the 2010-11 preseason kept him from playing a single game last season. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports that September will mark a sad anniversary for Mueller and the Avs as the last time a media member had a chance to speak with the talented but injury-troubled forward.
Right now, the company line continues to be that Mueller is expected to be ready for training camp in September.
So, can I or anyone else in the hockey media talk to Mueller then, assuming he’s healthy? Well, no, is the answer still. Does that mean, then, that Mueller still has concussion problems and hasn’t been medically cleared yet? The Avs don’t really have an answer for that right now. All they’ll say is “He’ll be at camp” and “things are looking good.”
Yes, we could phone Mueller anytime and ask how he’s doing. But keep one thing in mind: players on the Avs do not want to upset the people who sign their big paychecks, and one thing that really makes the Avs upset is when players, under orders not to talk to the media until they’ve been medically cleared, talk to the media before then. Most injured players are scared to even make eye contact with a reporter because of that team rule.
So, essentially we just have to keep waiting for when the team says Mueller is fully good to go again. But, again, they are on record as saying they think he’ll be at camp in uniform.
Let’s hope that Mueller’s path resembles that of Patrice Bergeron or Pierre-Marc Bouchard (two players who suffered from recurring problems but ultimately got their careers back on track) rather than someone like Marc Savard. His all-too-brief resurgence with Colorado was a great story. Seeing him do it again – and this time, for multiple seasons rather than several games – would generate an even better narrative.
(H/T to Puck Daddy.)
Saturday night is going to be a big night for the 14 NHL teams that did not qualify for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs because one of them will be the lucky winner of the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, giving them the No. 1 pick in the draft.
While there probably isn’t going to be a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews at the top of this year’s class, the top-two prospects (Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier) both have huge potential.
The Colorado Avalanche, owners of the NHL’s worst record in 2016-17, have the best odds at winning the lottery. The Avalanche last selected first overall in 2013 when they picked Nathan MacKinnon. New York Islanders have a less than one percent chance of winning.
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights have a 10.3 percent chance of winning the top pick.
Here is everything you need to know about tonight’s lottery
When: 8 p.m. ET, just prior to faceoff of Game 2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals second-round playoff series
Odds for every team in the lottery:
Colorado Avalanche — 18.0%
Vancouver Canucks — 12.1%
Vegas Golden Knights — 10.3%
Arizona Coyotes — 10.3%
New Jersey Devils — 8.5%
Buffalo Sabres — 7.6%
Detroit Red Wings — 6.7%
Dallas Stars — 5.8%
Florida Panthers — 5.4%
Los Angeles Kings — 4.5%
Carolina Hurricanes — 3.2%
Winnipeg Jets — 2.7%
Philadelphia Flyers — 2.2%
Tampa Bay Lightning 1.8%
New York Islanders — 0.9%
The NHL draft will be held on Friday, June 23 (first round) and Saturday, June 24 (rounds two through seven) at United Center in Chicago.
After dropping Game 1 of their second-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, the Washington Capitals are making a minor lineup change on Saturday for Game 2 of the series when Paul Carey replaces Brett Connolly on the team’s fourth line.
Carey, 28, appeared in only six games for the Capitals this season and did not record a point. He has one goal and one assist in 32 career NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche and Capitals, and appeared in three playoff games for the Avalanche back in 2014.
Given how Connolly’s ice time has been decreasing over the past few games this postseason it probably should not be too much of a surprise that he is now being removed from the lineup. After logging at least 10 minutes of ice time in each of the Capitals’ first three playoff games, he has not played more than 6:12 in each of the past four.
Coach Barry Trotz said on Saturday that he likes Carey’s speed in the lineup against the faster Penguins.
Connolly scored 15 goals in 66 regular season games for the Capitals this season.
In other Capitals lineup news, there is no change in the status of defenseman Karl Alzner as he will remain out of the lineup. He has been sidelined since Game 3 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury. Nate Schmidt will continue to take his place.
The Carolina Hurricanes made a somewhat surprising move on Friday night when they acquired goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a third-round draft pick in 2017.
On the surface it looks like a good move for both the team and the player. Goaltending has been a major thorn in the Hurricanes’ side for several years now, while Darling has probably earned the opportunity to be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL after performing extremely well as Corey Crawford‘s backup in Chicago.
The risk for the Hurricanes is that Darling will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and they will have to get him signed to a new contract before then to avoid potentially losing him (and the third-round pick they sent to Chicago) for nothing.
Shortly after the trade on Friday, Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said all of that was worth the risk because the team has accumulated so many draft picks in this year’s class.
“This is a bit of a gamble but one we believed was worth taking,” Francis told Chip Alexander of the News & Observer. “This is why we accumulated these picks and we still have 10 left. It was worth the risk.”
He added that they would “like to get something done sooner rather than later.”
The duo of Cam Ward and Eddie Lack finished the 2016-17 season with a .901 save percentage, 26th in the NHL. The Hurricanes have finished higher than 25th just once in the past five years. The Hurricanes have solid young core of talent in place and a defense that allowed the fifth fewest shots on goal in the entire league this season. Solidifying the goaltending position would go a long way toward ending the team’s current eight year playoff drought.
The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoff continues on Saturday with a pair of games on NBC.
All of the action starts at 3 p.m. ET when the New York Rangers try to even their series against the Ottawa Senators. Later, the Pittsburgh Penguins look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Washington Capitals at 8 p.m. ET.
Here is all of the information you need for today’s games.
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)
Announcers: John Forslund, Brian Boucher
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)
Announcers: Mike Emrick, Ed Olczyk, Pierre McGuire