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Avs elect not to extend qualifying offer to Mueller

Tuesday, 06.26.2012 / 11:48 AM

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

When Peter Mueller has been healthy, he's shown himself to be a highly-skilled NHL forward.

Staying healthy, however, has been a major issue the last three seasons, and likely was part of the reason the Colorado Avalanche reportedly have declined to give the restricted free agent a qualifying offer. The Denver Post reported Monday the club would not be making a qualifying offer to Mueller; without one, he would become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Taken by the Phoenix Coyotes with the eighth pick of the 2006 Draft, Mueller broke into the NHL the following season. His 22 goals as a rookie were second only to Chicago's Jonathan Toews, and his 54 points trailed only Chicago's Patrick Kane and Washington's Nicklas Backstrom.

He slumped to just 13 goals the following season, and after a slow start to the 2009-10 season, the Coyotes traded him to the Colorado Avalanche on March 3, 2010.

The change of scenery lit a fire under Mueller, who had nine goals and 11 assists in 20 games. That hot run ended April 4, 2010, when he suffered a concussion on a hit by the San Jose Sharks' Rob Blake.

He was close to returning when the 2010-11 season started, but he suffered another concussion in his first preseason game -- Mueller said he was hit by a stick in the left temple, the same place he was injured on the Blake hit -- and that led to him sitting out the entire 2010-11 season.

Mueller returned to the Avalanche at the start of training camp healthy again, and confident he had put his concussion issues behind him.

"I'm excited to be a hockey player again," Mueller told reporters in August 2011. "Obviously, I've had concussions in the past and it's something I have to deal with, but right now everything is in the right direction. Everything is pointing forward. I'm excited that it's all behind me."

It didn't last long. Sitting in the penalty box in his third game back, a bright light caught his eyes and brought back the same kind of headaches he had during his concussion recovery. He sat out three months, finally returning Jan. 12. In his fourth game back, he had a pair of goals and an assist, and five goals and two assists in his first nine games. However, a torso injury sidelined him for two weeks, and when he returned, he had just two goals and seven assists in his final 17 games.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game