Jul 3, 2013, 11:53 AM EDT
Not so fast.
The Panthers didn’t make a qualifying offer to the 25-year-old restricted free agent — making him an unrestricted free agent — explaining that the issue is Mueller’s contractual status.
“He has arbitration rights. We’re still negotiating with him,” Florida GM Dale Tallon told the Sun-Sentinel. “We’d like to keep him, but it’s just a matter of what the right number is as far as our budget is.
“We were fearful if he went to arbitration we wouldn’t be able to afford it.”
While that explanation works — Mueller made $1.7 million last year, and is in line for a raise — it’s hard to imagine Mueller getting a bank-breaking deal from arbitration, given he only scored 17 points last year.
The bigger issue, it seems, is that Mueller’s a center.
Florida surprised some at Sunday’s draft by taking Aleksander Barkov with the No. 2 overall pick — many figured they’d go with defenseman Seth Jones — but taking the Finnish center added to Florida’s stable of talented, young centers: Barkov, Drew Shore, Nick Bjugstad and Vincent Trochek.
Still, it’s hard to imagine Florida letting Mueller walk altogether.
He rebounded from severe concussion issues (didn’t play at all during the 2010-11 season) to earn the aforementioned Masterton nomination.
The former eighth overall pick also often skated on the club’s top line last season with Shore and Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau.
- It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT 0
- Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal 23
- How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos? 54
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal 71
- Report: Canucks, Sutter closing in on five-year deal, north of $20M 28
- Voynov serving sentence at jail that once advertised it had flat screen TVs 45
- Report: Bernier and Leafs more than $2 million apart ahead of Friday’s arbitration hearing 12
- Flyers re-sign Couturier: six years, $26 million 41
- Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks 24
- Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting 44
- Bettman says NHL would have to ‘consider’ putting Quebec City in the Western Conference (71)
- Voracek turns monster season into massive eight-year deal (71)
- Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million (62)
- NBC Sports to broadcast 105 NHL games in 2015-16 (58)
- Trade: Penguins send Sutter to Canucks for Bonino, Clendening (54)