Sharks assign top prospect Mirco Mueller to Worcester

Bruce Bennett

Following the conclusion of his season in the WHL, San Jose's top-ranked prospect is headed to Worcester.

According to the AHL's transactions page, the Sharks have assigned their top prospect defenseman Mirco Mueller, selected 18th overall by San Jose in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft last June, to their American Hockey League affiliate in Worcester following the conclusion of his season in the Western Hockey League.

Mueller, a 6'3", 195-pound native of Switzerland, spent this season and last in North America plying his trade with the Everett Silvertips, who were eliminated in the first round of the WHL playoffs at the hands of intrastate rival Seattle. He scored 5 goals and 27 points in 60 games this year for a two-year total of 11 goals and 58 points in 123 career WHL games. Prior to the 2013 draft, he was described by scouts as "a very athletic and talented rearguard that is getting better with each passing game" who "displays above-average mobility, both closing gaps well and rushing the puck up ice with solid speed."

With Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto having graduated to the big leagues, Mueller is definitively the organization's top prospect and was named the 17th-best prospect in the NHL by The Hockey News' latest Future Watch edition, which polls scouts leaguewide. Speaking of scouts, San Jose's director of scouting Tim Burke was recently quoted as pegging Mueller's chances of making the Sharks out of training camp next season at 50/50, all the more reason to get him some seasoning in a pro league prior to that battle. If Mueller doesn't make the team in October, he would head back to Everett rather than Worcester.

Dan Boyle's impending unrestricted free agency likely improves Mueller's odds of making the big club this fall and the Sharks are probably hoping he can make an immediate impact in the vein of Olli Maatta or Hampus Lindholm, two defensemen picked in the first round of the 2012 draft by Pittsburgh and Anaheim, respectively, who have been key contributors to contending teams this season. Worcester, currently seven points behind 8th-place Norfolk in the Eastern Conference, has nine games left in its season. Should Worcester miss the playoffs, Mueller will almost certainly be one of San Jose's black aces throughout their postseason run.

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