Has Mirco Mueller Found His Place In New Jersey?

 

Swiss defenseman Mirco Mueller was the 18th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. –Getty Images

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This offseason, the New Jersey Devils acquired defenseman Mirco Mueller and a fifth-round selection from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for 2017 second and fourth round picks. At first, skepticism was warranted in the acquisition of what seemed like an ex-first round selection that failed living up to expectations. In San Jose, the 6’3” Swiss defenseman played a total of 54 NHL games, totaling six points (2G, 4A) and compiling a plus/minus of -10.

At only 19 years of age, Mueller was thrown into an NHL lineup. Between being unable to live up of what was expected of him and having trouble cracking a seasoned veteran blue line, San Jose sent the former first rounder to New Jersey. After watching Mueller’s preseason success, early indications show his unsuccessful stint in San Jose seemed to have been a combination of rushing the young defenseman and not allowing him to establish a rhythm by dressing in their everyday lineup.

(Video obtained via “Immortal Cobra 60” on youtube.com)

Throughout a very successful preseason for the Devils, Mueller was right up there with 2017 first overall selection Nico Hischier as one of the Devils brightest young players this preseason. Mueller made an immediate impact as he scored the Devils very first goal of the preseason, which came against the Washington Capitals on September 18th. He played a total of four preseason games, in which he finished with two points (second-highest for a Devils defenseman this preseason), and had a +/- of 4 (which was the best for Devils defensemen). Mueller was also very successful in terms of possession statistics. In a total of three games, he was a +40/-29 in shots attempts at even-strength (stats were unavailable for New Jersey/Ottawa in Prince Edward Island).

These statistics were from the 9/27 matchup with the Capitals. Picture courtesy of @ToddCordell on Twitter.

Overall, Mueller had a tremendous preseason. He showed he’s capable of scoring goals and has the ability to be smart with the puck. He was also a leader in controlled zone exits (pictured above). Controlled zone exists are a heavily underrated part of hockey. The ability to leave the defensive zone cleanly is imperative in the success of any team. This is something the Devils struggled with mightily last season, and often led to them being hemmed in their own zone. It also affected the Devils ability of breaking out of their own zone on the rush to get their offense started. The video below is a perfect example of Mueller’s skill of exiting the defensive zone with success.

(Video courtesy of @ToddCordell on Twitter)

Even though Mueller’s good performances came just in preseason games, all the early indications show he has a great chance to succeed in a Devils uniform. He is just another name you can add to the list of great assets Shero has brought aboard during this rebuild.

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