Former Coyotes first rounder Mueller, veteran Vandermeer sign with Swiss team


It looks like two more unrestricted free agents are heading for Europe. The Kloten Flyers of the Swiss league has announced the signings of forward Peter Mueller and defenseman Jim Vandermeer.

Mueller was taken by the Phoenix Coyotes with the eighth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and early on he showed a lot of promise with 22 goals and 54 points in 81 games as a rookie, but at the age of 25, that’s still his career high.

A big part of the issue with Mueller is his injury history. He missed all of the 2010-11 campaign and a large chunk of the following season because of concussion problems. He was relatively healthy last season with the Florida Panthers, but managed just eight goals and nine assists in 43 games.

Vandermeer, 33, found himself in the minors last season, recording 10 points and 66 penalty minutes in 34 games with the AHL Chicago Wolves. He’s a physical blueliner with 105 points and 664 penalty minutes in 461 career NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers, and San Jose Sharks.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.