By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Colin Miller sleepwalked out of the gate with his new team in Vegas. He was held scoreless in his first five games and practically disappeared in the Golden Knights’ 3-1 win over the Bruins on Oct. 15. But now, the 25-year-old is red-hot as he returns to Boston with a chance to make his former team regret leaving him exposed last summer in the expansion draft.
Miller has scored eight points in his last six games, including six on the power play. He’s second on the Golden Knights with six assists and his eight points are tied for the third-most on the team, despite largely playing a third-pairing role with 18:02 of average ice time.
The injury-plagued Bruins, who are 25th in the NHL with 30 goals scored, could certainly use offense anywhere they can get it right now. They’re not getting it from any of their defensemen outside of Charlie McAvoy (one goal, seven assists). Torey Krug, who is supposed to be an offensive-minded blue liner and power play specialist, has tallied just two goals and an assist with a minus-9 rating in nine games since returning from a broken jaw.
It’s fair to note that the B’s haven’t necessarily needed Colin Miller’s services on the power play, where they are fourth in the league with a 28.9 percent success rate. The talented but mistake-prone defenseman also likely wouldn’t have helped much in areas where the B’s have needed to improve like net-front defense, puck management, and neutral zone play.
But the point is, when the Bruins exposed Colin Miller in favor of protecting the less skilled but more well-rounded Kevan Miller, a team that’s dedicating themselves to developing and playing young talent gave up on a talented young player for nothing in return.
It’s fair to question, with the benefit of hindsight of course, that the Bruins did not need to protect Kevan Miller at the expansion draft. The 29-year-old was arguably the Bruins’ best all-around defenseman in their playoff series last season against the Senators, but it’s hard to argue that he was on the Golden Knights’ radar. Vegas drafted veteran blue liners Luca Sbisa and Deryk Engelland – both similar players with an average salary cap hit of $2.3 million – before they even got to the Bruins.
If Colin Miller were plopped back onto the Bruins’ roster today, he would be tied with McAvoy for the most points among Bruins defensemen. He’d be third on the entire team in points (although to be fair, Patrice Bergeron has scored six points in just five games). He would lead the team in power play points.
Colin showed that his booming shot and offensive instincts can be legit weapons in the Golden Knights’ loss to the Islanders on Monday, when he potted this power play goal:
As soon as Colin was left open to be plucked away by the Golden Knights, it became abundantly clear that he was simply not part of the Bruins’ future plans. There’s a chance that he ends up being no more than the third-pairing defenseman and power play specialist that he is right now. But it’s also obvious that he still boasts plenty of talent and untapped potential, as evidenced by his recent hot streak, and that at 25 he still has room to get better. He may not be a stud, but he sure doesn’t look like a total bust.
It would have been nice to see how he would have turned out here, rather than out west.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.