One of the last notable unsigned NHL free agents has found a new home for this season. Defenseman Mirco Mueller, most recently of the New Jersey Devils, has moved on from pursuing an NHL contract to sign in Sweden. The SHL’s Leksands IF has announced a contract with Mueller for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
Mueller, 25, was arguably the best unsigned blue liner left on the open market prior to this signing. Among current free agents, Mueller trailed only veteran Ron Hainsey in games played, time on ice per game, and points. That wasn’t even a career-best season either, as Mueller posted personal highs across the board in 2018-19 with 11 points, 75 hits, and over 18 minutes per night in 53 games with the Devils.
While Mueller’s defensive efforts over the years deserve some scrutiny, he had been a good semi-regular defenseman for quite a few years with New Jersey and the San Jose Sharks. Still growing into his game, the young defender seemed like a player that an NHL team would have been willing to take a shot on. Instead, he should step into a major role for Leksands for the rest of the year. The team, which is in the middle of the pack in the SHL this year, boasts some talented former NHL forwards scoring at an impressive clip, such as Carter Camper, Carter Ashton, and Peter Cehlarik. However, they have not received much production from the blue line, an area where Mueller will be of major assistance. Given his age, NHL experience, a potential production in the SHL over the rest of the season, Mueller could be back in North America before too long.