Next up in our off-season looks at the Detroit Red Wings’ pending UFAs and RFAs focuses on an everyman. The Benjamin Button of hockey. The Silver Surfer on Skates. Drew "JustForMen" Miller, as he reaches the end of his 3 year deal with a hit of $1.35 million each year.
#20 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Feb 17, 1984
The Past: Drew Miller joined our Detroit Red Wings in 2009, after we claimed him off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s never made more than $1,300,000 at the NHL level, and spent a long stretch in the organization as a spare part rotating with Patrick Eaves, when healthy, or a plethora of other bottom 3/6 wingers.
In 6 full seasons and parts of 4 more at the NHL level, Drew Miller has scored 57 goals and 58 assists, racking up an aggressively pedestrian .2 points per game.
Even so, once upon a time, Drew Miller was a guy we wouldn’t have freaked out about had he needed to fill in temporarily on the second line. He led the league in blocked shots among forwards in both 2013 and 2014. That came after a stint with the Braehead Clan, and I think you all know where I’m going with this. Scotland is near Stonehenge. Drew Miller came back and was a veritable stone wall on defense. Drew Miller is a warlock.
The Present: More or less, we all know the story on the 31 year-old Miller. The one time iron man suffered a broken jaw, fought to come back, and then almost immediately went back out with a torn meniscus in his knee.
A consistent, no frills player who will be plugged into a team’s bottom line and on the PK. He’s a positionally sound, 10 minute a night guy who the diggers and hockey media have decided is the penalty killing Jesus.
Unfortunately, Miller routinely gets absolutely shelled. Whether that’s due to deployment, lack of puck possession, or a combination of the two is up to you, but the writing is on the wall. Additionally, Miller is at an age where a steep decline is coming, probably sooner rather than later given his skill set. Combine that with only 28 games played this season where he posted an abysmal 39% CF% and the fact that he’ll be coming off a major knee injury, it may be the end of the silver fox era in Detroit.
The Future: Miller, while acceptable on the PK, is a one trick pony who’s now taking up a spot better used by guys like Andreas Athansiou, Tomas Nosek, or even long shots like Andy Miele and Tyler Bertuzzi. I find it difficult to believe that Miller won’t find a team willing to give him ~$2million for 3 or 4 years, over valuing his PK reputation and veteran presence.
Maybe more significantly, at 31 years old, I see Miller’s UFA status as the first big test of Ken Holland’s statements about being aggressive and trusting the youth. (Helm is a home-grown product who we all secretly expect TickTock to overpay.)
If Miller IS re-signed in Detroit, expect to see a guy like Mitch Callahan get claimed on waivers, and for the resulting fecal tornado that occurs on mLive to melt their servers, causing an influx of new members who are positive that the loss of grit is the only reason we’re not the 2016-17 Cup favorites.
So, let's hear it, WiiMers. Do you want Miller back? At what cost?