If Boston hockey fans were asked where resigning Kevan Miller should rank in the Bruins offseason priorities, it would have probably polled somewhere between building the Causeway St. statue honoring Glenn Featherstone and having Meghan Trainor replace Rene Rancourt on the anthems.
The Bruins have had two seasons end in failure mostly because they have multiple smoldering open wounds on defense and a pathological determination to ignore the problem. They need legitimate NHL defenseman capable of playing twenty plus minutes a night of hockey for a playoff caliber team.
And they might have one guy on the roster capable of doing that, and he’s 39 years old.
This is not debatable. This is stone cold fact.
Zdeno Chara is no longer capable of shouldering a Norris Trophy caliber load on D.
Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller and John Michael Liles are all ill suited for top 4 Defensive roles on a team with any aspirations of contending.
Colin Miller, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow did not show enough consistency or promise as of yet to assume a top 4 role on this team.
Matt Irwin and Tommy Cross were barely worthy of roster spots, alone a significant role on the team going forward.
So if there is no clear answer to the Bruins defensive problems on the roster currently the first thing they should be doing this offseason is identifying potential options in either the draft (possible but not likely), trades or free agency.
By resigning Miller Sweenarelli is not only NOT fixing the Defense. He’s now locked up the key components of last season’s failure for the foreseeable future.
Resigning Kevan Millar for 4 years and 10 million dollars total exacerbates the current problem. In doing so the Bruins have chosen to waste valuable cap space on a player who possesses a skill set and role that is redundant to that of Adam McQuaid, but to also do it for the next 3 years. Now the Bruins will be paying 2 right shot defenseman, best suited to bottom pairing roles 5.25 Million a year for the next 3 seasons, when Bruins prospect Brando Carlo, also a right shot defenseman, could fill the same role and actually develop his significant upside for entry level money in a season or two.
This is a move right out of Peter Chiarelli’s playbook but Chiarelli resorted to these kind of wasteful signings because he couldn’t draft and didn’t have any suitable options developing in the minors. Sweenarelli should know better after seeing how Chiarelli’s signings crippled the Bruins as recently as two seasons ago. And to defend Chiarelli yet again ( Is this what early onset dementia feels like?), the players he overreached to keep: Kelly, Peverley, Campbell, Thornton & Paille, were all solid contributors on a championship team. Sweenarelli is overpaying and overextending failure.
A rational, sane GM would have looked at the Bruins defense and seen these issues. They would have let Miller walk given the log jam of 5th and 6th defensemen, and signed a reasonable solution to fill a hole in their top 4 like Jason Demers, who is better and 2 years younger than Miller. Then said sane GM would work the phones to deal for another serviceable and preferably young blueliner to revitialize and improve the current core, all while executing an organizational edict to develop the defense of the future through any means available.
Resigning Miller isn’t improving. It’s settling.
Bottom line: Kevan Miller is a 3rd pairing D on a team loaded with 3rd pairing D that fell apart and didn’t make the post season. On San Jose or St. Louis last night, Kevan Miller would probably be a healthy scratch. On the Bruins, he’s not seen by management as being part of the problem.
For Sweenarelli, Kevan Miller is now the future.
God Help Us.