The Bruins are still very optimistic that there will be NHL hockey again at some point over the next few months.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they will be getting any additional reinforcements when/if they do return as Don Sweeney confirmed on Friday that Kevan Miller (knee) wouldn’t be able to join the Black and Gold.
Miller has been out for this entire season and hasn’t played a game in over a year dating back to the April 4 game last season when he fractured his kneecap against the Minnesota Wild.
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The 32-year-old Miller had been skating on his own leading to the NHL suspending the regular season a month ago due to the coronavirus outbreak, but Sweeney said it wouldn’t be in the D-man’s best interests to try and play if regular season or playoff games take place this season.
“Kevan just had some setbacks that I don’t believe it’s going to be in his best interests to try and ramp up in a short span with the hopes of playing this year,” said Sweeney, during a Zoom call with Bruins media on Friday afternoon. “Our intentions are for Kevan to be in a 100 percent healthy state when we resume again next season. We know Kevin is a UFA, so we’ll entertain bringing Kevan back and he’ll entertain whether he wants to come back.
“But most importantly in his case, he needs to get back to being fully healthy. We don’t want to put him in any situations where he could jeopardize any further setbacks. He’s got a longer timeline to make sure he does things in smaller stages to afford him the opportunity to get 100 percent healthy and return to play.”
The reality is that Miller has only played more than 70 games once in his six healthy NHL seasons with the Bruins, and the wear and tear on his body from his physical, rugged playing style has taken a toll on him.
Sweeney said the door remains open for the impending UFA Miller and the Bruins to sign a contract that will keep him in Boston beyond this season, but there’s also a level of pessimism about the rugged D-man’s return given how long he’s been out of the mix.
The longer Miller sits, the lower the percentages go that a return will be in the mix for a defensive zone warrior and a guy who played like every Bruins player should.
The Bruins signed young defensemen Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon to long-term, short-money deals that will be in place for next season, so the Bruins are well stocked in physical, bottom-pairing defenseman should this be the end of the road for Miller in Boston.