Throughout the week, I’ll be exploring a handful of upcoming free agents and trying my best to predict their chances of being re-signed, culminating with what I feel is a fairly accurate peek at the 2010-11 Red Wings. To the surprise of absolutely no one, I’ve already got my chart ready to go, have the numbers in a spreadsheet and it’s just about ready to share with you fine folks.
Has there ever been a better waiver acquisition than Drew Miller? The answer is “yeah, Kyle Quincey” but forget about that for a second…and relish in the goodness that is Stanley Cup winner Drew Miller. Amidst all the injury trouble, who would have thought a waiver acquisition from the Tampa Bay Lightning would step in and help save the day?
Miller seems to have found a place (not only a town, but also a system) where he fits in. Prior to joining the Red Wings, Miller had six career goals. In his 45 games in red and white, his seven goals, eight assists, and fifteen points are already career highs. He plays a strong two-way game, kills penalties, blocks shots, and is happy to contribute on the fourth line. Sold. Man, I bet a team like the ninth place Lightning could use a guy like him…
He’s another local boy, which the Wings have shown they’re partial to. Miller played his college puck at Michigan State, spending three years as a Spartan after being drafted in the sixth round by the Frolicking Ducks of Anaheim. Not only that — he’s cousins with the Kip, Kelly, and Kevin Miller, the latter of whom also spent time as a Wing.
This past summer, the Lightning signed Miller as a free agent, but only dressed him in fourteen whole games before deciding they were going to try to sneak him down to the AHL via waivers. No dice, Florida, you just got jailsexed.
Like Patrick Eaves, I think Drew Miller is in extension territory with the Red Wings. Is he as important a cog as Eaves has turned out to be? Probably not, but he’s certainly useful and he – like Eaves – seems to want to be a Red Wing, outplaying Ville Leino, Brad May, and a handful of other bottom-half roster guys on his way to a career year in a half-season worth of games.
Worst case scenario, Drew Miller is the thirteenth forward, scratched occasionally. But, if we’ve learned anything in 2009-10, it can’t hurt to have too many NHL-level guys, just in case. I bet that Miller signs a two year deal, somewhere in the neighborhood of $850,000 per. That’s not a ton of money, but it is a 60% raise on his current salary.
I remember a few weeks ago on the podcast (don't remember which week/panel), Miller was discussed and the consensus seemed to be that he would not be returning next year because he wasn't as critical to the team as some others. I hoped then, and still do now, that he doesn't get cut loose. He's done a great job this year and I hope we find a way to hold on to him.