The 2018 offseason is officially in full effect with general manager George McPhee keeping busy both on the phones as well as on the market in order to put yet another winning organization on the ice at T-Mobile Arena come October.
That in mind, the team made their first big splash just under one week ago with the signing of Paul Stastny to a four-year contract after he become an unrestricted free agent, finishing his half-season tenure with the rebuilding Winnipeg Jets upon having been dealt by the St. Louis Blues.
Furthermore, the club then signed Ryan Reaves to a two-year contract while Nick Holden and Brandon Pirri were added on as well. What did this mean for other players on the team’s active roster? Of course it would play into the fact that the market is feasting and the papers are well within order for those who have become available.
To that regard, the team lost winger James Neal to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday while just five days later, defensemen David Perron found himself exiting as well to reunite with the Blues on a four-year contract.
With these two subtractions having been made at the expense of unrestricted free agency, McPhee jumped the gun on Saturday afternoon after it became fairly obvious that the first-year franchise was in for what could very well turn out to be an incredibly busy offseason.
On Saturday, just hours after learning that 43 players across the league had filed for arbitration, Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press reported that the Golden Knights had signed Miller to a four-year contract extension worth a total base salary of $15.5 million, a steep increase from the $1 million he earned in 2017-18.
A club announcement followed just a matter of moments later while Whyno also made mention of the fact that Miller’s new deal would include an annual salary cap hit of 3.875 million, later re-iterated by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.ca. According to CapFriendly, the deal also includes a modified no-trade clause in the final two years.
This deal becomes the club’s sixth signing of the offseason with goaltender Oscar Dansk having most recently agreed to a two-year deal with the club on Friday , a depth move made to backup Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban who will presumably be the rotating duo once again come Opening Night in October.
Returning the focus to the veteran defensemen, Miller joined the Golden Knights back in June of 2017 after he was left unprotected by the Boston Bruins for the expansion draft, meaning he was amongst a list available for selection for owner Bill Foley and McPhee to choose from.
Miller, who is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, led the team’s defencemen in scoring with 10 goals and 31 assists while he also appeared in all 20 of the Golden Knights’ playoff contests where he scored three goals to go alongside four assists as Vegas made their bid for an inaugural run at the cup.
Taking a further look at his 2017-18 season, Miller, 25, appeared in a total of 82 games played where he recorded a career high of 41 points which also happened to include five goals and 17 points when placed on the power play where he added on 53 penalty minutes to his performance line. Back to his ice time during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Miller would walk away with a total of seven points.
As for his numbers over the course of his NHL career, Miller, who currently weighs in at 6’1″, 196 lbs, has appeared in a total of 185 games where he scored 19 goals to go alongside 51 assists to make for a total of 70 points in which he added 147 penalty minutes to his resume.
Miller has played three seasons in the league since having been drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round (151st overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to his professional career taking off, Miller spent three seasons (2010-2013) with the Soo Greyhounds of the American Hockey League where he played under the management of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas.
Before the Bruins lost Miller to Sin City, the Canadian appeared in a total of 103 games in Boston from 2015-2017 where he scored 9 goals to go alongside 20 assists, making for 29 points to go alongside 94 penalty minutes. He also averaged an ice time of 15:48 per night.
As noted by Last Word On Hockey, Miller was second on the Golden Knights in the hits category behind Brayden McNabb while he led all defensemen with five power-play goals this season while playing on the third pairing alongside Luca Sbisa.
All in all, Miller becomes the Golden Knights first major RFA to sign and therefore could very well become a top six defencemen for Vegas while he could also continue to get time both on the power-play and on the blue line as he definitely has the potential to be a key fixture for head coach Gerrard Gallant as he approaches his second season with the NHL’s newest franchise.
Like most players selected by the Golden Knights, Miller found himself not only having a breakout season but also hitting some career numbers which he could very well find himself not only hitting but doubling next year as he almost tripled his point total from 2016-17 in Boston.
With Miller now locked up on a long-term deal, the club now turns their attention to the long list of players they have lost to restricted free agency which includes No. 1 center William Karlsson, as well as Shea Theodore, Tomas Nosek, William Carrier, Philip Holm and Teemu Pulkkinen.
With this in mind, the Golden Knights remain in a rather good situation cap-wise as the team still has a little under $15MM in salary cap space left after the Miller signing. It is also worth mentioning the fact of which this does not include the money they will get back for veteran right-winger David Clarkson, who’s $5.25MM contract both can and very likely be put onto LTIR when the season gets underway.
As noted by TheScore, the Boston Bruins were overloaded on the right side of their blue line during Miller’s tenure with the organization with Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, and now Charlie McAvoy stacking the pile. Either way, it would have likely led to Colin Miller’s departure from Massachusetts.