So far in our series asking the fans to weigh in on whether they'd like to see Detroit's UFAs return to the fold, we've covered an aging superstar, a young and confusing defenseman, both goaltenders, and the most hobo-looking Red Wings forward since Robert Lang's ego detached from his head and floated him to Phoenix. Today, we stick with the forward corps and move onto another of the guys who started last year on the fourth line.
As a reminder, we'll give you the ins-and-outs of the player's career situation, contract situation, and expectations before opening it up for you to vote on. The Wings' cap situation has changed since we started doing this series, but it is not going to have much effect on this particular post. Regardless of whether it's this player or one of the griffins, the Wings are going to need an inexpensive forward playing in the #12-13 spot. Spending on this spot is not going to dictate what happens on the higher lines and defensive pairings one way or another.
Without further ado, please follow us after the jump for the breakdown on ol' salt-n-pepper himself, the 27-year old Drew Miller.
, Forward #20
27 Years Old (February 17, 1984)
6'2", 178 lbs
5 Full NHL Seasons (200 career regular season games played) - Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Detroit.
Born in Dover NJ, raised in Michigan.
Regular Season - 67 games played, 10 goals, 8 assists, 13 PIM, -2, 11:44 TOI per game.
Playoffs - 9 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 PIM, +3, 10:17 TOI per game
Drew Miller was drafted in 2003's sixth round by the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. His first taste of NHL action was during the 07 Stanley Cup Playoffs where he won the cup with the Ducks. He played parts of the next season with them before being traded to Tampa Bay. In November 2009, Miller was placed on waivers by the Lightning and was picked up by an already injury-plagued Detroit team looking to fill depth. He earned himself a spot on the roster that season and a raise from his previous two-way, $525K contract to a one-way $650K deal.
He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Depending on who you ask, Drew Miller is either a dime-a-dozen easily replaceable fourth-liner who also kills penalties or an integral part of the glue of a successful organization. He played only 67 games this year and only 9 of 11 playoff games despite not showing up on the injury report for them. His amount of healthy scratches this season was lowered by the injuries to both Kris Draper and Mike Modano, as well as the inconsistent play of Jiri Hudler. He is likely to remain no higher than #11 or 12 on a healthy Red Wings' depth chart.
CASE FOR MILLER
1) 10 goals and 18 points from a fourth-liner who was not a roster-regular speaks enough for itself. Not many teams can brag to have a guy who plays the roles that Miller did while still potting ten goals.
2) Miller knows his place in the hockey world and accepts it with gusto. He doesn't expect nearly as much as is expected out of him and he gives it his all on every shift and in each role he's asked to fill.
3) His presence on the roster makes people I hate irrationally angry. Like the kind of people who speak in annoyingly untrue absolutes like "he never puts up points" and have voices similar to those people in call centers that are so full of hatred and spite that you'd almost rather let the free trial of toilet-paper-of-the-month club that your buddy signed you up for run out so you have to start paying for lavender-scented asswipes than deal with that kind of person with the power to prevent that from happening.
CASE AGAINST MILLER
1) Having to scratch a guy from the lineup every third game to get points out of him when he returns has historically been high on the list of coaches' favorite qualities since never.
2) He very likely may have peaked as far as career potential. While he may not command much money, his presence on the roster can take up space that the Wings could use to test one of their young guys in a more substantial role with the team.
3) He's less than 30 years old and he looks 50. Also, not having him around would cut down on how often we have to be reminded that Ryan Miller doesn't play for Detroit.
WHAT HE'S SAYING
Miller told Helene St. James that he wants to stay in Detroit. This was the first year of his pro career that he's stayed in one place for the entire season (without being sent back-and-forth between the pros and minors and without being placed on waivers); He likes that stability and the organization, telling the Freep "Hopefully we can work something out. I'd definitely like to stay -- I mean, it's a great organization here. They have a lot of depth, but that's what happens when you have a good team."
Miller may not command a raise at all from his $650K salary last season. While he's a jack of all trades that are needed from a fourth-line forward, his master-of-none status gives him a lower career potential than the guys he's going to be fighting with for a roster spot. I think he'll go in the $650-850K range and would be surprised if it's on the higher end of that.
Internal :: Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton are going to battle hard to take Miller's roster spot from him. If Kris Draper decides to return, he'll be in the mix as well.
External :: Every year there are a ton of low-pay UFAs-to-be. This year, I'm counting 20 guys on Capgeek that got paid between $650-850K. While some of them are due raises out of that bracket (like Ville Leino), there are enough sitting below that pay range to step up. Some notable names include 2008 Red Wings' waiver-wire loss Matty Ellis, Vancouver's Tanner Glass, Blues' donkey Cam Janssen, Lightning grinder (and former Spartan) Adam Hall, and even fan-lover Rick Rypien.
WHAT DO YOU THINK
Please use the form below to give us your take on whether the Wings should try to get Drew Miller back at a reasonable rate. Then, sound off in the comments with your thoughts. Can Miller prove his worth and win a spot or has he plateaud? Voting will stay open for 48 hours. Thanks!
Voting is now closed - Thanks to everybody for helping us out. Stay tuned on Thursday, as the fellas at The Production Line continue our series.