Kevan Miller made his NHL debut in November and became a regular following the latest in a long string of injuries to the very unlucky Adam McQuaid. Two months and 16 games later, Miller inked a two year, $1.6 million contract.
While that's pretty cool, it pales in comparison to having someone wear your jersey in a television commercial.
Kevan Miller is the first Bruin to ever wear 86, so yeah, that's his sweater for some reason. If the mom's worried about her son's choice in hairstyle she should be doubly concerned with his choice in favorite player.
On the ice, Kevan Miller is a divisive player to the say the least. On the one hand you have the "eye test" folks. To them, Miller is a good stay-at-home defenseman who brings physicality (fourth on the team in hits given per 60 minutes) and can block shots (first on the team per 60 minutes). "Steady" was the favorite description of his advocates.
On the other side, the stats crowd were not the biggest Kevan Miller fans. I would put myself in this category so if that's not for you I suggest you stop right here. The praise bestowed upon Miller by the first group was not drastically different from the criticism from his detractors.
Blocks a ton of shots? He's pinned in his own zone. He's blocking so many shots because he allows the opposition to possess the puck in abundance. That, by the way, is something that gets overlooked due to the fact that Miller benefited from a team-best 96.6 sv% at 5v5.
Kevan Miller wasn't that bad, though, was he? Well, based on time on ice, Kevan Miller was 27th of 30 in CF% Rel for 6th defensemen. That's dreadful. And yet he received some of the easiest minutes of that group and played with a solid possession player in Torey Krug. In fact, Miller was tied for 48th worst possession player in the NHL this year among players with 41 games.
In the playoffs Miller picked up where he left off in the regular season but he somehow managed to top his possession numbers with a -10.2% CF% Rel (2nd worst on the team after Gregory Campbell). Miller was one of seven Bruins who were out attempted and outscored in the playoffs.
Miller was not a total disaster, though. Honest. While I still maintain Matt Bartkowski did an admiral job replacing Dennis Seidenberg, there was one area he was simply unable to replicate - penalty killing.
Kevan Miller, to his credit, stepped up and filled that void. He not only replaced Seidenberg on the PK, he surpassed him. Take a look at the CA/20 from this season:
In fact, Miller was the best on the team at limiting attempts on the kill. Regardless of your feelings for Miller, you have to give him credit for that.
Kevan Miller's de facto role this season was to replace Adam McQuaid. Let's take a look at how the two compared this season:
|SP/60||P/60||S/60||CF% Rel||SF%||SF% Rel||GF%||CF/60||CA/60||CF% Together/CF% Teammate Apart (Krug)||CF% Together/CF% Teammate Apart (Krejci)||CF% Together/CF% Teammate Apart (Smith)||CF% Together/CF% Teammate Apart (Campbell)|
|Adam McQuaid||4.0||0.75||3.1||-2.6%||50.5%||0.4%||66.7%||52.2||51.5||49.5% / 56.8%||51.9% / 52.7%||51.9% / 59.2%||47.8% / 45.3%|
|Kevan Miller||2.6||0.44||3.0||-5.5%||50.6%||-6%||69.4%||52.4||50.0||54.3% / 55.8%||50% / 53.1%||62.6% / 57.8%||45.5% / 45.7%|
It's a bit of a mixed bag here. Miller's WOWY numbers for commonly shared teammates are better while McQuaid's better pretty much everywhere else, most notably at CF% Rel. Overall, they were pretty similiar but consider deployment.
McQuaid had a ZS% of 49% while Miller's was at 62.1%. Similar production, easier starts. Advantage McQuaid.
Fortunately for Miller, he's cheaper, younger and less injury prone. In the Bruins eyes, he's probably made McQuaid expendable.
In evaluating Miller's season, I can't look past how poor he was relative to his fellow number six defensemen. While a very strong part of the Bruins PK, he doesn't offer much beyond that and it only does so much for my overall opinion of the year. I give him a grade of...