Peter Mueller has dressed in each of the Bruins’ two preseason games. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)
BRIGHTON — When Peter Mueller took a professional tryout with the Bruins late in the summer, he had more to worry about than just playing. After admittedly being immature in previous NHL stops, the 28-year-old said he had to prove to teams that he would commit to an organization. He needed to assure teams that if an AHL deal was his only way to return to North America after three years in Europe, he’d take it.
Of course, there’s nothing more important than just playing, for all the other stuff becomes moot if the 2006 eighth overall pick doesn’t convince the B’s that he’s worth a contract.
Two games into the preseason, Mueller has gotten typical PTO treatment, meaning he’s been one of just three players to dress in both contests as the team tries to get as good a look at him as possible. Monday saw him skate on the right wing of Sean Kuraly and Peter Cehlarik, while Wednesday saw him positioned on the right wing of Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He’s also seen time on the power play both games and on the penalty kill Wednesday against the Red Wings
“To be honest, it’s nice to play in the games. I’d rather play in the games and showcase my skills,” Mueller said after Thursday’s practice. “As much as you want to show how good you are in practice, it’s tough to show it that well. To be honest, it’s great to play in both games.”
Prior to the start of the preseason schedule, Mueller, a center earlier in his career, said that he’d played mostly at either right or left wing in Europe. A right shot, Mueller has been used exclusively at right wing thus far in the preseason, which is good and bad for his chances of staying in Boston. The Bruins are thin at right wing after David Pastrnak and possible David Backes, but the Frank Vatrano injury also presents opportunity on the left side. Mueller says he has no preference, as long as he’s playing.
The Bruins are drawn to Mueller’s skill, which is what got him drafted and gave him five years in the NHL prior to his departure after the lockout-shortened 2013 season. He didn’t set the world on fire offensively in either of the last two seasons abroad, but he put up 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 49 games in the Swiss National League-A in 2013-14. Last season, he scored 13 goals and 12 assists for 35 points in 43 games in the Swedish Hockey League.
“I didn’t know him very well as a player before, to be honest with you, so I don’t have anything to go by, but I think he’s been OK,” Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy said of Mueller’s preseason games. “We haven’t generated a ton of offense, and he’s that type of player. I think it will take him a while to develop some chemistry, but he’s shown moments where he’s got his shot off and had some looks. You can tell he’s got a heavy shot; he’s around the puck, so there’s certainly something there offensively. Hopefully it keeps getting better and better.”
Mueller’s last NHL experience did not go well, as he and the Blues severed ties on a one-year contract two seasons ago when he was told he wouldn’t make the team. After two more years in Europe, Mueller is glad to be back in North America, where he’s said he’ll stay regardless of what kind of deal he’s offered.
“It’s an honor to wear this jersey, it really is,” Mueller said. “And not just the jersey, but the whole experience has been tremendous and great so far. Even putting on the practice jersey and coming to the facility, this is an unbelievable experience. For me, I’m cherishing it every second of the way.”