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Panthers bank on Mueller regaining his rookie form

The SportsXchange

The Florida Panthers, right now anyway, don't look much different than they did last season.

Gone is defenseman Jason Garrison, replaced by Ottawa's Filip Kuba. Mikael Samuelsson went to Detroit, and Florida signed Peter Mueller from Colorado to replace him.

As of now, Florida will go into the season with the same goalie tandem in Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen with most of its forwards and defensemen back to defend the franchise's first division title.

Florida signed Kuba and George Parros on July 1, then didn't add any other free agents until signing Mueller to a one-year deal on July 12. Mueller has missed big portions of the past three seasons because of concussions, but general manager Dale Tallon said that Mueller passed all of his medical evaluations and has been cleared to continue his playing career.

If Mueller can stay healthy as the Panthers hope, they may have landed themselves a nice player for little risk, as they gave him a one-year, $1.75 million contract. Mueller scored 22 goals as a rookie for Phoenix in 2007-08.

"I hope to get him the way he was his rookie year," Tallon said. "He seems to be revitalized. We did our due diligence. He understands this is a great opportunity. He's a top-six forward with size and skill. He's still young. This is well worth the risk for us to sign him to a one-year deal and hopefully get back to where he was before he was injured."

Said Mueller: "I'm just looking forward to a fresh start. There's no secret about my past."
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