The Olympics were an exciting tournament for hockey fans around the world; more so perhaps, for Leaf fans. In addition to world-class hockey, we were also catching a glimpse of some European free agents that Burke would undoubtedly be targeting at some point.
Marcel Mueller is a guy I fell in love with during the Olympics. I had completely forgotten about the guy, but when I heard about the signing I couldn't help but be happy for it.
Ironically, watching him play for the German team, I was reminded of a current Leaf, Nikolai Kulemin.
Mueller skates well, he's big, he hits and he's defensively responsible. I have to confess, I didn't notice that he was particularly responsible in his own zone, but everything I've read suggests he is.
Where he reminded me of Kulemin was the offensive zone. He forechecks well, has some offensive instincts and rarely misses an opportunity to finish a check. He's got an impressive cycle game down low and he doesn't have a half-bad shot either.
Like Kulemin, it sounds like his ideal role will be on a third line that can check, shutdown and is a threat to score. If we can retain Kulemin and acquire the kind of wingers that will allow him to fall to what I feel is his natural fit, we could find ourselves with a very dynamic third line in a couple years.
I'm not sure whether Mueller is NHL-ready now (I've read conflicting opinions on this) but I think that given the Leafs' shortfall at left-wing, he'll certainly be given an opportunity in camp to prove his mettle.