Name: Drew Miller
Born: Dover, NJ
Height/Weight: 6’2” / 183lbs
Miller came back to the Wings this season on a one-year deal earned for essentially being a good soldier last year in hitting LTIR just when the team needed a bit of space. Due to the nature of his injury, he was given a one-year deal with the opportunity for bonuses and to also show his value at the NHL level. Early season hopes that the bottom forward spots in the lineup would come down to Miller OR Ott were dashed as Miller played each of the first 13 games of the season, although with goals in back-to-back games against the Rangers & Predators, Miller found himself on a 12-goal pace before finding his first scratch of the season.
As injuries started for the Wings, Miller found himself a common scratch; as Tyler Bertuzzi got into a number of games, Miller found himself in the cabana in 11 of the next 20. With more injuries piling, Miller again got back into the lineup around Christmas and stayed there through mid-January, adding another three goals in 12 games before the return of Niklas Kronwall to the Wings’ lineup led to Miller being put on waivers and sent to Grand Rapids.
As Drew played in Grand Rapids throughout the month of February, the Wings fell out of the running and became sellers at the deadline, creating space and reason to bring Miller back up. He played the next 18 games before missing two with the flu and then finished the season in the lineup against Montreal and New Jersey. Miller put up just one point as the team floundered to the finish line.
What He Did vs. Expectations
Obviously points aren’t the only measure for a player who is supposed to be a defensive specialist. Miller was here to play solid defense and help the Red Wings’ penalty kill. To that end, he was at or near the bottom for rates of shot attempts and goals allowed while shorthanded, in numbers that aren’t adequately waved away by deployment (all via Corsica.hockey). At even strength, the lines he played on were constant punching-bags for the competition, at best playing bend-don’t-break hockey and at worst killing momentum for the other lines’ attempts at “rolling four.”
Of course, this essentially meets many fans’ expectations of Miller. While the hopes were he could mostly be a good locker room guy and stopgap forward, the fact is he played too many games and, while he was a good soldier, he didn’t contribute much. Nobody really expected him to do so, but I’m going to judge this based on the expectations of an NHL contract that a player be at least replacement-level. To that end, Miller did not stack up.
Final Grade: F
I’m going to level with you as a fan. It really sucks to be in this position. I’ve been a fan of Drew Miller since the Wings picked him up off waivers from Tampa and he’s always been the definition of a hard-working guy who’s easy to root for. Unfortunately, none of the excuses for giving a hard-working guy who fell short of low-expectations work for Miller. He’s not a kid who’s been ruined by the comically evil Jeff Blashill or a guy so beset by injury this year that we just can’t bring ourselves to flunk him. The shitty truth is that Drew Miller is emblematic of many of the complaints which earn others excuses and there’s a very real possibility that we’ve just witnessed the end of his NHL career.
What Grade Should Drew Miller Receive
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