Team Switzerland’s World Junior tournament chances got a big boost on Friday, as the San Jose Sharks announced they’d lend Swiss d-man Mirco Mueller out for the tournament, which goes Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Toronto and Montreal.
“This is a great honor and opportunity for Mirco to represent his country,” GM Doug Wilson said in a statement. “As an important young player to our franchise for now and the future, we think this experience will provide a positive impact on his career moving forward.”
“We have been very pleased with what Mirco has added to our group this season but this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him to represent his country and compete against the top peers in his age group,” added head coach Todd McLellan. “We look forward to him returning to the club after the conclusion of the tournament.”
Mueller, 19, was San Jose’s first-round pick (18th overall) at the 2013 NHL Draft and made his big-league debut this season. He’s since appeared in 24 games and leads all first-year players in blocked shots, with 38.
There were rumblings earlier this year that, following a pair of healthy scratches, San Jose might return Mueller to WHL Everett. McLellan shot down those rumors and the Sharks proceeded to keep Mueller past the nine-game threshold, giving him quality minutes (averaging over 17 per game).