The Florida Panthers tossed the dice on July 12 when they signed Peter Muller to a one year, $1.7 million contract. Muller hasn't had the best record in the NHL because of injury issues but it wasn't too long ago that they 24 year-old was a top prospect. If Muller can get back to his rookie form with his new team then the Panthers will have struck gold.
Muller was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round (8th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He was phenomenal in his rookie season with the Coyotes when he put up 54 points and played in 81 games. He suffered somewhat of a sophomore slump his second year in the league but still managed to put up a respectable 36 points for the season.
The turning point in Muller's career came after he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche during the 2009-2010 season. Muller suffered two concussions in 2010, the second of which put him out for the entire 2010-11 season. He returned with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2011-12 season but was again sidelined with post-concussion issues. He only played a handful of games last season but his production didn't look too bad. With only 32 games played, Muller scored 16 points for the Av's. It's a far cry from his minor league stats but with only 32 games played, Muller didn't even get the chance to warm up.
Before he made the jump to the NHL Muller played with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. In his last season with the Silvertips Muller scored 78 points in only 51 games and managed to accumulate 45 penalty minutes which proves that the is a tough two-way player.
Muller may never play up to the level that he was in his young career again but it's a risk that the Panthers' general manager Dale Tallon is ready to take. Muller's contract with the Cats is worth $1.7 million over the next year. If Muller can make the most of the 2012-13 season he could be in a position to command big money the following year. If he ends up being a bust the Panthers don't lose much in the way of contract money.
It's hard to tell if a guy like this will ever return to his former glory but the fact that Tallon was able to get a top eight draft pick for less than $2 million is nothing short of astounding. The kid is certainly a gamble but the best thing about this gamble is the Cats didn't have to put up much and if they win the payoff will be huge.
More from this contributor:
All contract and injury information from FloridaPanthers.com
All statistics from Yahoo! Sports
Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein