BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Peter Mueller #93 of the Boston Bruins reacts after missing a shot during the shootout in the preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets  at TD Garden on September 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Is this it for Peter Mueller after Bruins end his PTO?

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Peter Mueller clearly wanted to return to the NHL in 2016-17, but that won’t happen with the Boston Bruins.

The team announced that they released Mueller, 28, from his PTO on Sunday.

It’s tough not to wonder if this is it – at least in NHL terms – for the eighth overall pick of the 2006 NHL Draft. Mueller hasn’t played at the highest level of hockey since 2012-13, when he scored 17 points in 43 contests with the Florida Panthers.

Mueller has experienced a career of starts and stops, yet it feels like he never truly recovered from the concussion he suffered thanks to a hard hit by Rob Blake.

Report: Ehrhoff headed to Bruins on a PTO

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The Boston Bruins were under some serious pressure this summer to improve their group of defensemen.

That didn’t happen.

With training camp and the preseason now in full swing, it appears the Bruins are bringing in a veteran blue liner — at least on a professional tryout.

On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that unrestricted free agent blue liner Christian Ehrhoff is about to join Boston on a PTO following his showing at the World Cup of Hockey.

In six games with Team Europe, Ehrhoff had three assists — all at even strength — and nine shots on goal.

Ehrhoff is now 34 years old, and the Bruins already have a pair of seasoned defenders in Zdeno Chara (39 years old) and John-Michael Liles (35 years old) on their roster. Adam McQuaid turns 30 years old in October.

Ehrhoff played last season on a one-year, $1.5 million contract, and was placed on waivers in February while with the L.A. Kings, before he was traded to Chicago. Age and injuries have caught up to him, and he never did fit with the Kings’ style under Darryl Sutter.

He was most productive during two seasons in Vancouver, a puck-moving defenseman that could effectively skate the puck out of trouble and move the attack that way if need be. But that was from 2009 to 2011. His production has dipped, especially over the last three years.

He was also pivotal to Vancouver’s power play, especially in 2011 when the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy and made it to the Stanley Cup Final — against Boston.

Again, that was five years ago.

Bruins’ Vatrano to miss three months with foot injury

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 17:  Frank Vatrano #72 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden on November 17, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Sharks defeat the Bruins 5-4.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Frank Vatrano is supposed to be one of the young players the Boston Bruins will be counting on this season to help replace some of the offense they lost when Loui Eriksson signed a free agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

Unfortunately for the Bruins they will have to wait a few months before he gets an opportunity to make an impact.

The team announced on Saturday that Vatrano is going to require surgery to repair torn ligaments in his foot and is expected to miss at least three months.

General manager Don Sweeney said that Vatrano was injured in his training in preparation for the team’s training camp.

Vatrano appeared in 39 games for the Bruins in 2015-16 season and scored eight goals, including a hat trick in an early season win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent the rest of his season playing for Providence of the American Hockey League where he scored a league leading 36 goals in only 36 games. Just for some perspective on that goal total, only one other player in the league scored 30 goals for the entire season, and that was Chris Bourque who scored 30 in 72 games.

The Bruins need Colin Miller to make an impact

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 25: Colin Miller #48 of the Boston Bruins in action against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center on January 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Boston Bruins won, 3-2. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The Boston Bruins — unable to acquire the “transitional” defenseman they were seeking — have turned inwards in their search for improvement.

“We plan to upgrade our D with our play on the ice,” head coach Claude Julien said today, per CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty.

To do so, Julien expects youngster Colin Miller to take a big step in his development. The 23-year-old came to the Bruins as part of the Milan Lucic trade with Los Angeles. He’s put up big numbers in the AHL, but hasn’t quite established himself in the NHL.

Per Haggerty, Julien believes that Miller has “the package” to become a consistent, high-level defenseman; however, in order to so, he needs to cut down on the “reckless” plays.

Earlier this month, Bruins GM Don Sweeney spoke about the expectations for Miller.

“We expect him to come out of the gate strong,” Sweeney said. “He had a good offseason. He had some challenges toward the end of the year where he was up-and-down, came back and reinserted himself and then went back down [to Providence for the AHL playoffs].”

If Miller can progress into the kind of puck-moving defenseman the Bruins hope, a trade for an established, right-shot d-man like, say, Kevin Shattenkirk becomes less necessary.

The Bruins do have a number of other promising defensive prospects, including Charles McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Brandon Carlo, and Jeremy Lauzon. But those four are all still teenagers, so it’s going to take time before they’re ready to make an impact in the NHL.

Miller can make an impact this season, and that’s what the Bruins are hoping, and expecting.

Related: Even with the same defense, Neely expects improvement from Bruins

Even with the same defense, Neely expects improvement from Bruins

Boston Bruins President Cam Neely, left, and Bruins Chief Executive Officer Charlie Jacobs prepare to leave a news conference in Boston, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, regarding the hockey team's decision to fire general manager Peter Chiarelli days after missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in eight years. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

When the Boston Bruins began their offseason, team president Cam Neely made it a priority to upgrade the blue line.

“We know that it’s an area that we need to improve upon,” he said. “That’s probably at the top of the list.”

A month before the regular season, however, and the Bruins’ back end has not changed whatsoever, save for the deletion of Dennis Seidenberg via buyout.

So how does Neely explain it?

“Basically from April to now everybody is talking about our back end, and not being able to land a top-4 defenseman. We still have an opportunity as far as cap space goes if something shakes free, and I know [GM Don Sweeney] has been working hard trying to do something,” he said, per CSN New England. “But I feel like as a group we can do better than we did last year.

“I think Tuukka [Rask] can play better than he did last year. If that happens we should be a better club. It’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be competitive. But I feel like the changes we’ve made through the organization, and not just in player personnel, that there’s opportunity for our group to improve.”

Granted, there’s still time for Sweeney to land a defenseman in a trade. The problem is the price. An established puck-mover like, say, Kevin Shattenkirk, will not be cheap to get. And in Shattenkirk’s case, nor will he be cheap to re-sign.

Up front, the B’s did land David Backes in free agency, but they also lost 30-goal man Loui Eriksson.

The Bruins open the regular season on Oct. 13 in Columbus.

Related: Blues might just keep Shattenkirk