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SAN JOSE – Unlike, well, just about everyone else, Sharks prospect Mirco Mueller would like to keep the extra pounds he put on over the summer months.
According to the six-foot-three defenseman, he is now up to 205 after adding 10-to-12 pounds since the end of last season when he skated in nine games with AHL Worcester after his season in the WHL ended. Compare that to when Mueller was in training camp a year ago when he was listed at 175 pounds, and it’s easy to see why the 2013 first round pick has a real chance to make the opening night roster.
“I worked really hard in the summer to really gain those few pounds I needed,” Mueller said on Friday, where he’s taking part in Sharks rookie camp. “I think I’m ready for [the NHL] now.”
The Sharks are set on the right side of their defense with Brent Burns, Justin Braun and Jason Demers all returning. The left side gets dicey, though, behind Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Matt Irwin and Scott Hannan both figure to make the team, but Irwin has struggled to stay in the lineup on a consistent basis while the aging Hannan is on the downslope of his career.
The 19-year-old Mueller, who missed most of last year’s NHL training camp with a back injury, is aware that there is an opportunity to break in.
“Obviously there’s spots open. I think everyone knows that,” he said. “I just come in with the same attitude I’ve always had, just get a spot no matter what the situation is. Just play my best hockey, and other things I can't really influence. I’m just doing what I can.”
The added weight could help Mueller in the one area of his game that the Sharks staff would like to see him improve upon – playing with an edge.
Mueller said: “You can obviously improve everywhere, but I think if there’s one part, it’s the toughness around the net and in the corners. I think I kind of started to improve that with getting stronger. That helps a lot. Kind of being meaner around the slot, and just trying to play harder.”
Mueller, along with 28 other Sharks prospects, skated for about 90 minutes on Friday morning before heading to Anaheim later in the afternoon. They will face the Ducks’ prospects in a pair of scrimmages on Saturday and Sunday, with general manager Doug Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan among the observers. Worcester head coach Roy Sommer, new assistant Ryan Mougenel, goalie coach Corey Schwab and player development coach Mike Ricci ran Friday's practice.