Teams in the market for a steady, smooth-skating defenseman (read: many teams) may find themselves taking a long look at Mirco Mueller at the 2013 NHL Draft.
A year after his Everett Silvertips teammate and former defense partner Ryan Murray was selected No. 2 overall by the Blue Jackets, Mueller finds himself to be on the radar of several NHL clubs as draft day approaches. The 17-year-old native of Switzerland started to garner significant attention last season, as he stepped up and played big minutes after Murray's season-ending shoulder surgery in November.
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The 2012-13 season was Mueller's first in North America after playing two seasons in Switzerland's Kloten organization, both with the big club and the junior squad. Mueller, who checks in at 6-foot-3 and roughly 180 pounds, has room to grow into his NHL-style frame but displayed an advanced, mature game as one of the younger players on Switzerland's 2013 World Junior tournament team.
Mueller was the 12th-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings and finished the draft year ranked No. 9, putting him in prime position to be a top-15 pick when the draft begins at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Does this scouting report sound familiar, i.e. much like his former teammate Murray? Hockey types rave about Mueller's ability to think the game at a high level and make plays at top speed, and his breakout passes have appeared on just about every single scouting report you can find. He's not the most physical kid, instead relying on quick footwork and smart positioning of his body and stick to separate players from the puck and transport it out of danger.
Here's a brief snippet of Hockey Prospectus' analysis of Mueller:
"He slows down the game on breakouts, making good decisions with the puck. He also makes a lot of defensive stops due to his good positioning and reads. He displays above-average mobility, both closing gaps well and rushing the puck up ice with solid speed. Mueller has fine size, with a sense of quality physicality about his game. He has only average overall puck skills, and he projects as a second unit power play defenseman. He will deliver very good value to his team from his work in his own zone."
You can read the full HP scouting report on Mueller by clicking here.
Season GP G A P PIM
2012-13 63 6 25 31 57
(photo courtesy: Chris Mast)