Back during the 2013-2014 season Kevan Miller jumped on the scene and established himself as a legit NHL defenseman. At points of that season he was one of the Bruins best defenseman. Coach Claude Julian even showed a lot of trust in him, deploying him on penalty kills and he would often be seen on the ice at the end of games paired with Zdeno Chara.
My favorite Miller moment was when he dropped the gloves and knocked out Travis Moen. Moen suffered a concussion during that fight and as a hockey fan you hate to see that, but that was the moment you realized how much of a beast Miller is. Even during the Bruins TV show “Begind The B”, you saw early glimpses of Miller’s strength when he tied Zdeno Chara in the preseason pull up test with an amazing 33 reps.
Last season, Miller played through a shoulder injury that eventually required season ending surgery after playing in 41 games. At the time Miller shut it down he was around a plus-20, which was also the team lead. To put that in perspective Zdeno Chara was an even 0 plus/minus in 63 games. In 41 games Miller had 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists). In the 2013 – 2014 season in 47 games Miller, as plus 20 as well, and had 6 points (1 goal and 5 assists). His time on ice increased in this past season to 18:02 minutes per game from the previous year at 17:27 minutes per game.
So what can we expect from him this upcoming season? Most likely more of the same. Miller will play a physical stay at home game with the ability to move the puck up the ice. But where does he fit into the lineup? Zach Trotman is on a one way contract, so he will need to clear waivers to go to Providence. There is no doubt in my mind Trotman would be claimed and lost for nothing if the Bruins went that route, so that is not going to happen.
Could Miller start the year on Chara’s right side, or will he be the seventh defenseman? These type of things have a way of working themselves out. Whoever the Bruins seventh defenseman is they will see significant time because injuries are going to happen. How the defensive unit comes together during training camp is the most interesting decision the Bruins coaching staff will make. The Bruins may not have enough top 4 defensemen, but they do have a good amount of overall depth at the position.
Unless the Bruins make a trade, or sign another defenseman we can assume Chara, Seidenberg, Krug and McQuad will be 4 of the 6 defenseman. That leaves 2 spots for Miller, Irwin and Trotman. Not to mention if Colin Miller or Joe Morrow pushes their way into the lineup. Personally, I think Colin Miller is going to make a big push in the preseason for a roster spot that could push another player out of the lineup, or even off the team.
I could be unrealistic, or a homer, but I feel Kevan Miller is too good to be a seventh defenseman, but that might be where he starts the season. It does not make sense to trade him since his cap hit is $800k, so he is cheap enough to be the seventh defenseman. However, Kevan Miller will get a raise from someone next summer when he is an Unrestricted Free Agent if the Bruins don’t lock him up.