When the Manchester Monarchs won the AHL’s Calder Cup in the spring of 2015, Colin Miller played a huge role on the blueline. Miller scored 52 points in the regular season and then added ten more in 19 playoff games en route to a title.
With the Kings already being deep on the blueline, Miller was dealt to Boston for forward Milan Lucic at the 2015 NHL draft. Although Miller never was able to grab a job with the Bruins, many people correctly identified him as a helpful NHL piece.
One of those people, or likely a small group of them, happened to work for the Vegas Golden Knight. Vegas claimed Miller in the expansion draft, catching 30 other teams napping and finding a right-shot diamond in the rough.
Could the Knights, who may look very different next season, sell high on Miller this summer?
Why Is He Out There?:
Vegas has given Brayden McNabb their top-pairing right-shot job, and they’ve already locked him up to an extension. Deryk Engelland has taken the second-pairing job and is also signed through next season.
That leaves Miller as number three on this depth chart, a role he is better than. With a deep prospect pool on defense and with numerous NHL options to fill in Miller’s third-pairing role, it isn’t crazy to suggest the Knights could move him for offensive help.
Consider this, both James Neal and David Perron are free agents on July 1st, and it is quite possible that both leave for lucrative contracts elsewhere. Vegas will need to find a way to replace that lost production.
What Does He Do Well?:
Miller is an extremely talented offensive defender who is mobile and can move the puck. He’s able to transport the puck up ice with his speed, but also has a good first pass and is able to move things in the right direction that way.
In the offensive zone, Miller makes things look natural. He knows how to find the open man and has top-notch instincts. He can create offense and is an option that the opponent simply must respect when he is on the ice.
Miller averaged 19:21 TOI-per-game last season, excelling in a third-pairing role. Miller posted a Corsi For % of 56.3, indicating that the puck was moving in the right direction when he was on the ice.
Boxcar wise, Miller posted 10-31-41 in 82 games, a career year at the NHL level.The right-shot defender stands in at 6’1” and 196 pounds, and will turn 26 in October.
Here’s a look at Miller’s scouting report via The Hockey News.
Assets: Is a solid offensive defenseman with a great, heavy shot and power-play skills. Also possesses a decent frame and sound puck-moving ability. Can play on either side of the ice, which adds value.
Flaws: Must continue to work on his play without the puck, and also become a bit more physical in his own end, in order to maximize NHL production. Could also use a bit more bulk on his 6-1 frame.
Career Potential: Solid offensive defenseman with a little upside.
Where Will He Play/Where Should He Play?:
Miler handled a third-pairing role in Vegas, but I think he is ready to take a top-four spot on an NHL team. There’s a little bit of risk here, but he excelled this season in Vegas and has shown that he is ready for a ride up the depth chart.
In Edmonton, Miller would be the club’s second best right-shot option, behind only Adam Larsson. He’d get that top-four chance with the Oilers.
What Will He Cost?:
Miller will be a restricted free agent on July 1st, assuming Vegas gives him a qualifying offer (they will). He’s coming off of a two-year deal that counted $1,000,000 on the cap each year and will doubtless be looking for a raise after a career year.
In terms of a contract, you’re probably paying Miller somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000,000 – $2,500,000 on a bridge contract of one or two years.
Trade wise, it all depends on what happens with Vegas’ other pieces. If the Golden Knights lose some of their forwards, they’d probably want to get their hands on someone like Jesse Puljujarvi or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. RNH probably isn’t available, but Puljujarvi (he shouldn’t be) could be.
Would Edmonton be willing to risk the tenth overall pick in June’s draft for Miller? I personally wouldn’t be, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Peter Chiarelli was.
Colin Miller, in many ways, is an ideal fit for the Edmonton Oilers. He’s a young enough right-shot defender who posts offense, can play on the powerplay and is ready to help out on the second-pairing. Not only that, but Miller should be on a relatively friendly contract for the next two to three seasons.
Trade cost could prove to be too much, if Vegas is even interested in moving Miller, and that could be a problem. The reality is, Edmonton simply doesn’t have much in terms of trade assets heading into this summer. What they do have doesn’t add up value wise with Miller in my humble opinion.
It’s another good fit that, unfortunately for Oiler fans, appears to be unrealistic.