Players will go to great lengths to pursue a professional career in hockey.
Mirco Mueller was willing to travel over 5000 miles.
The Swiss defenseman came to North America to play for the Everett Silvertips after the team made him the11th overall pick in June’s Import Draft.
Mueller admits a few fellow Swiss players may have paved the way for a Western Hockey League experience.
“Over the last few years, a couple Swiss players played in North America and they told me how high the playing level is there and I’ve always been interested to play in another country, so I was very happy to be picked by Everett,” Mueller said, 94th in Future Considerations October ranking for the 2013 NHL Draft.
“It’s an amazing organization. The WHL is for sure one of the best junior leagues in the world.”
That pair of players Mueller is referring to are none other than Nino Niederreider – selected fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2010 – and Sven Baertschi – taken 13th overall in 2011 by the Calgary Flames.
“I think those two players gave Swiss hockey a new image,” said Mueller, who shares agent Andre Rufener with both Niederreiter and Baertschi. “They showed the players back home in Switzerland what can be possible if you work hard every practice and every game, no matter where you come from.”
The move from Winterthur to Everett – a one-way trip of 5238 miles – is one that has Mueller closer to the 2013 NHL Draft. But that doesn’t mean the six-foot-three, 176-pound defenseman’s focus lies on June’s selection process.
“I never thought that I would be part of the NHL Draft,” he admitted. “I just took every game and every day step by step. I think if you think of the draft too much, you start getting too nervous during games. In my opinion, the draft is a reward for the work you did in every game and every practice over the last few years.”
Which has Mueller closer to the 2013 NHL Draft than he ever expected.
What has been the biggest adjustment off the ice in Everett?
I think all the traveling was one of the biggest adjustments, especially because Switzerland is very small.
How has the adjustment been to the WHL? What has been the biggest adjustment on the ice?
For me, the different size of the rink has been the biggest adjustment. There are many game situations you have to play much different because of the rink size.
Ryan Murray was heavily watched in his draft year and regarded as the best defenseman of his age group. You’ve only played with him a short time, but how has he helped you grow as a defenseman?
Murray is a great player. I can learn many things from him, on and also off the ice. He’s a great leader and a great guy. I think we fit pretty good together as a D-pair and understand each other well. He’s also very experienced, which you can see in every situation.
Aside from having great size, what other aspects of your game do you think impresses scouts?
I think I can read upcoming plays pretty well, which allows me to be in a good position most of the time, offensively and defensively. Defensively, I try to have good stick play. And I think my skating and my shooting are pretty good.
What areas of your game do you feel you need to improve in?
I have to improve my stick handling and I need to gain weight. In some situations, I need to be more gritty and determined.