When healthy, Drew Miller is an effective checking forward and solid penalty killer.
When healthy, that is.
Miller struggled through a nightmarish campaign in ’15-16, missing extensive time with a broken jaw and torn ACL. The result? Just 28 games played, and only two points scored.
Set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the 32-year-old Miller wants to re-up in Detroit, get healthy, and return to form next season.
“Right now, for me it’s just getting myself healthy and giving myself an opportunity to get another contract,” Miller said, per MLive. “Everything is on the right path. The knee is feeling a lot better every time.”
Scooped off waivers from Tampa Bay seven years ago, Miller has really flourished during his time with the Red Wings and, not unlike a fine wine, got better with age.
He didn’t miss a single game from 2013-15, appearing in 82 contests each season while racking up 15 and 13 points, respectively. Miller was also one of the Red Wings’ best shot-blocking forwards and a staple of the penalty kill.
There are some questions about his future in Detroit, however.
The knee has to be a concern. Miller said the ligament had been partially torn for the better part of a decade but, since it didn’t bother him that much, he never had it addressed. Yet there has to be pause from GM Ken Holland about investing in a guy, on the wrong side of 30, coming off major surgery.
There’s also the potential for Detroit to continue with its youth movement up front. Young guys like Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Martin Frk and Evgeny Svechnikov could be pushing for full-time NHL gigs next year, which could make Miller expendable.
Of course, the whole thing could simply come down to dollars. Miller’s last contract was a three-year, $4.05 million deal that paid $1.35M annually, and it’s hard to say if he’d score a similar payday if he sticks in Detroit.
Testing free agent waters could ultimately be the play.