COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: Kevan Miller
Countdown to camp: Kevan Miller
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2017-18 Bruins. Today: Kevan Miller.
The Bruins made a statement about the value of Kevan Miller when they opted to protect him in the expansion draft over Adam McQuaid and Colin Miller. Miller had a strong season for the Bruins that ended with a very good playoff performance amid a depleted back end. He brings solid physicality and a tough-minded presence to a B’s team that always needs those kinds of players. Miller is primed for an important role on the Bruins this season and they’ll need him to stay healthy and effective as a brawling, punishing top-four blueliner.
What Happened Last Year
Miller, 29, again missed some time with injuries last season, but he put together a year that got better as things went along and he built some confidence breaking pucks out from the back end. He finished with three goals and 13 points in 58 games, along with a plus-1 rating, while averaging 17:48 of ice time per game. Miller was healthy when it mattered most at the end of the season and played in all six postseason games for the B’s while topping 25 minutes of ice time. Miller is never going to be a big point producer or a power-play regular, but he is very effective when paired with a puck-mover that can handle the transition duties. That being said, Miller can surprise with his skating and occasional offensive bursts while proving that he’s not exactly an offensive liability.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
The biggest question for Miller is whether he can effectively play this season on his left side as a possible D-partner for Charlie McAvoy. He played his fair share on the left side last season and looked effective enough doing it, but that combined with the top-four duties and workload could be a challenge where Miller is maximizing his talent level. It will be interesting when trying out McAvoy defensive partners in camp to see whether they go with Miller or possibly with an extremely mobile, puck-moving tandem with Torey Krug. Beyond that, it’s about remaining healthy for Miller while playing the kind of physical, hard-nosed game that is expected of him. The bottom line is that Miller has reached a comfort zone with the B’s, but there could be some challenges ahead based on his role.
In Their Own Words
“I think, as a player, if you’re not trying to get better, you’re getting worse, especially in this league now. I think guys are getting faster, they’re getting bigger and getting better with the puck. So it’s something that, every summer, you have to go out there and try and better yourself, not just for yourself, but for your team. I have aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I wanted to sign here. If you’re not getting yourself better, you’re not helping your team.” –Kevan Miller, on improving his game in an NHL where speed and transition are becoming more important while being bigger and stronger is the bread and butter of his game.
Miller, 29, has become a quiet leader and fearsome competitor for the Bruins and a player who can at least sporadically play a top-four role with some pretty good effectiveness. Miller will also struggle with execution when it comes to smooth first passes and he’s never going to be looked at as a primary offensive source from the back end, but he does enough things well to survive in a lot of different roles. Miller’s primary role will always be as a physical, intimidating stay-at-home defenseman made to make life difficult for his opponents in the D-zone, but he’s not as one-dimensional as others who play the same kind of role. The Bruins showed some trust in Miller when they protected him in the Vegas expansion draft, so now it’s up to him to return the favor with his play. He could make Boston’s life much easier if he’s capable of playing on the left side and living up to partnering up with McAvoy this upcoming season.