Panthers gamble on Peter Mueller with one-year deal


Considering how shallow (and risk-heavy) the NHL free agent market is, Peter Mueller struck me as one of the most interesting gambles of all the unrestricted guys below the “obvious star” level. Renaud P. Lavoie reports that the Florida Panthers decided to roll the dice with the promising-but-concussion-plagued winger, handing him a one-year contract worth $1.725 million.

GM Dale Tallon hit the jackpot with one of his injury risks last summer as Tomas Fleischmann set career-highs with 27 goals and 61 points. Naturally, concussion and blood clot issues aren’t the same thing, yet the Panthers aren’t making anywhere near the investment in term or dollars for Mueller.

As of this moment, Mueller’s salary would make him the sixth-highest paid forward, which probably makes sense since the Panthers probably envision him – ideally – as a top-six guy.

Still, there is some risk involved. Mueller’s concussion issues limited him to 32 games last season and wiped out his 2010-11 campaign completely. Wasted money would still be wasted money if he can’t play a game.

Even so, Mueller’s potential is tantalizing. He was the eighth overall pick of the 2006 draft and while his foot speed is lacking, he has nice size and a useful right-handed shot. If he can be reasonably healthy, he could provide Florida with some of the depth offense they needed last season. (The team struggled to score beyond the big first line that usually featured Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg.)

Speaking of Versteeg, re-signing him likely remains the highest priority on Florida’s off-season to-do list. Unless you count trading for Roberto Luongo, that is.

Blues’ Shattenkirk suffers lower-body injury

Kevin Shattenkirk
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This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.

Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.

While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.

There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.

Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.

Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:

It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.

Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning


In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.