His growth during his first year in Boston has been well noticed. His performance in Monday’s 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings solidified his spot on the Bruins’ defense.
One day later, it has all come full circle for Kevan Miller, as he signed a two-year, one-way contract extension through the 2015-16 season with the Black and Gold with a cap hit of $800,000 per season.
With the B’s blue-line surcumbing to the “injury ninja” throughout the course of 2013-14 season, Miller has filled in admirably as a stay at home presence. Although he was sent back down to Providence after his first nine games with the Big Bad Bruins. That was just a precaution as the B’s wanted to avoid a potential situation with putting him on waivers per the rules of the CBA – despite having a two-way contract, he would have been put on the wire as a rookie over 25 years of age.
That didn’t last long, as Miller was called back up shortly after Dennis Seidenberg’s season ending ACL/MCL injury. And the Los Angeles born defenseman hasn’t looked back since.
“I’ve played with Kev for three years now, we’ve been D partners,” Matt Bartkowski said after Monday’s win over LA. “He just plays his game. It’s a simple game and its an effective game. He’s a strong kid and I’m sure he’s a bear to play against for the other forwards.”
With Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Dougie Hamilton all missing significant time with their injuries, Miller has been called upon by Claude Julien in crucial, late game situations.
Case in point: in Monday’s win over LA, Miller displayed his physical prowess on Dustin Brown in the defensive end as the Kings were looking for the equalizer. It was one of his game-high five hits, but it was more than just a package for the highlight reels – it was an effective blow that helped the Bruins secure the victory.
That alone gave Miller and Julien some comfort late in the game.
“We got four of our guys on the back end that are in their first year,” the seventh-year Bruins coach added. “He’s pretty big, he’s very physical [and] he’s having a good game. Guys that are playing well should be out there and they’re normally out there.
“He was really solid for us. Big body, threw some heavy checks and was a big factor in our win [against the Kings], because, again, we’re a little young back there.”
His journey to the National Hockey League started at the University of Vermont, where, during his four-year tenure, he helped the Catamounts make their second Frozen Four appearance in school history. That journey continued as a member of the Baby B’s during the last three-plus seasons in Providence.
With Tuesday’s announcement, its safe to say that The Hub of Hockey is now on “Miller Time”.