After months of anticipation, the Vegas Golden Knights were finally able to reveal their Expansion Draft selections last week. By the end of the evening, the roster of two included 37 new faces and 10 extra draft picks. One of the new faces was Boston Bruins’ defenseman, Colin Miller.
Although the Golden Knights’ selection was not a big surprise, many were still upset with GM Don Sweeney for leaving the 24-year-old blue-liner exposed to the NHL’s newest club. They seem to believe Colin Miller should have stayed and either Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller should have been exposed. Not all fans will agree, but losing Colin Miller is not a big deal for the Bruins.
Yes, losing Miller is not a big deal, but that does not mean there is no downside. Obviously, letting a 24-year-old with trade value who can play at the NHL level walk for nothing is not ideal, but weird things happen in times of expansion. Shopping Miller around the League and trading him to the highest bidder would have been the best scenario, but once again, these are strange times. At the end of the day, he would not have been traded for a ridiculous price, so to put a positive spin on it, the Bruins probably did not lose out on much of a return.
The other negative piece is the Bruins lost a player who could step up on the blue line with solid performances in the event of injuries that are sure to occur throughout the grueling season. It may prove difficult to find an affordable and reliable player to fill this slot, but there are options for Sweeney and the Bruins to explore.
Future of the Bruins Blue Line
If you are a big supporter of Mr. Miller, you may be wondering why he would make for a good fill-in option in the event of injuries. It may be hard to take, but the truth is, Miller would not have entered the 2017-18 season as a member of the top-six defensive group.
If we include John Michael-Liles, the Bruins had eight defensemen on their roster before the Expansion Draft. After constructing a simple depth chart, the order went something like Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, McQuaid, Colin Miller and Liles. A quick count tells us Colin Miller slotted in as the seventh blue-liner on the Bruins’ depth chart. On top of being number seven, four of those in front of him are also right-shot defenders.
With a healthy team, had Miller stayed with the Bruins, he would have had to watch a good portion of the games from the press box. Combining the previous depth chart with the other young talented defensemen that are on their way up the NHL ladder, there simply was not enough room in the organization for Miller. He was not going to be a factor in the future of the Bruins’ blue line.
Now, I am not sure how Miller feels about moving out west, but for his hockey career, I would bet he is pretty happy to be on the Golden Knights. He will have a much better opportunity to earn ice time, earn more money on his next contract, and improve his game. All players want an opportunity, and he will get it with a fresh start as a Golden Knight.
Miller’s Bruin Performance
One thing Bruins fans need to remember is that Miller did not play very well. He had shining moments, but he had a lot of mediocre games, and he did not seem to be improving at the rate many hoped he would through the first 103 games of his NHL career. There is a reason both Claude Julien and Bruce Cassidy kept him out of the lineup on occasion.
Miller has a lot more flash than substance to his game. Sure, he skates phenomenally and has a rocket of a shot, but he turned the puck over too often, missed the net and could not be used in important defensive situations. On the surface, his style is very appealing, but when you break down his game piece by piece you start to see the larger issues.
Yes, before you say it, there is upside to his game, and he will probably improve. The only problem with this argument is his ceiling does not extend above a bottom pairing defenseman. If a club relies on him to be a top-four guy, there is a good chance they are not playoff bound.
Anthony Pagliarulo is a Boston Bruins contributor for The Hockey Writers. He is a Massachusetts native and a Worcester State University alumni. You can follow Anthony on Twitter @APags87.