The summer after a season that was limited to just 28 games due to a reconstructive surgery on his ACL, Drew Miller has returned to Detroit on a one-year deal.
Drew Miller re-signs in Detroit: 1-year, $1.025 million.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 27, 2016
Drew Miller Signs 1-Year Deal with Detroit
Turning 32 last February, Miller was in the third year of his three-year pact he signed in 2013 that paid him $1.35 million each year. His new deal is a minor step down paying him just north of $1 million, a contract that can’t be fully buried in Grand Rapids if Miller is beaten out for a roster spot by a young player, like Tyler Bertuzzi, whom Ken Holland said will be given every opportunity to make the team. While may not be an ideal use of cap space for on-ice performance, Miller can still be of use off the ice and for younger players.
The Dover, New Jersey native has been one of those fourth line grinders that Holland and former head coach Mike Babcock loved for a time, always laying out on the line for the team. Miller’s 327 blocked shots from 2010-15 led all Red Wing forwards, constantly topping the charts among the group up front. Detroit is really the first place Miller found his niche, as after playing and winning the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, he would play just 53 games more for the team before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009. That winter, he would be put on waivers after just 14 contests.
The Red Wings, battered by injuries at the time, picked him up and he made an immediate impact, scoring 10 goals in the final 66 games. Including that season, Miller has played 449 contests with the club, netting three consecutive double-digit goal campaigns from 2009-12. His offensive numbers have slowed and his five goals in 2014-15 were a far cry from 14 in 2011-12, Miller was a durable staple in Detroit’s lineup that has logged a lot of penalty killing minutes. He does not have the legs that he used to and should not be playing against other teams’ top lines however, as in the 28 games he played this season he posted a 38.1% CF% paired mostly with Luke Glendening.
I’m just speculating, but this looks like a stop-gap type of deal. If Miller is sent down to Grand Rapids at some point, the minor salary cap hit is still in effect but could provide some value from a leadership standpoint. This may have been done to replace some of that leadership that may be lost this offseason with Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan‘s future in doubt with the club. If he wants an NHL spot, I’d say he’ll have to have a solid training camp after a full summer of recovery with current Wings head coach Jeff Blashill knowing the things that the up and comers in Grand Rapids can do.