Last month, the Boston Bruins revealed that defenseman John Moore would miss the beginning of the regular season due to off-season shoulder surgery. At the time, they also mentioned that Kevan Miller was also at risk of missing the start to the year while continuing to recover from a fractured knee cap. The team has now followed that up with confirmation that Miller will not participate in the preseason and will not be ready to begin the season, per NBC Sports Boston.
Miller, 31, struggled through a litany of injuries last season that caused him to miss 43 regular season games and the Bruins’ entire playoff run. It was the fractured knee cap that cost him the stretch run and postseason and severely limited his off-season training. GM Don Sweeney stated that Miller is not even ready to begin skating with the team yet and is a ways away from a return at this point. Even once he is healthy, one has to question what Miller’s role will be in Boston moving forward. The physical rearguard was clearly slowed by his injuries when active last season, recording just seven assists, playing a less intense style in his own end and, as a result, logging his lowest average ice time since his rookie season. Given his injury history and continuing concerns, the Bruins extended fellow righties Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer to multi-year deals this off-season, while the newly extended Charlie McAvoy and yet-to-be-signed Brandon Carlo are clearly the future on the right side of the blue line. Entering a contract year, it seems unlikely that Miller has a future in Boston and could find it hard to earn starts and ice time over his potential 2020-21 replacements once he returns.
While Miller and Moore are out, the Bruins’ depth should be capable of shouldering the burden. McAvoy is back under contract and the team will likely move on Carlo soon. In fact, Sweeney mentioned that the absences of Miller and Moore could allow the Bruins to employ Long-Term Injured Reserve if necessary to sign Carlo. Those two plus Clifton and Kampfer give the Bruins good options on the right side. On the left side, captain Zdeno Chara has faced his own injury concerns this off-season, but it is looking optimistic for a healthy start to the season. Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, and numerous promising minor league prospects provide options behind him as well. The team will also host Alex Petrovic on a PTO in camp, who would provide even more stability as an experienced stay-at-home defenseman. Whoever returns earlier from injury between Miller and Moore will likely have a leg up in winning back regular play time, while the other could struggle to carve out a role. The four years remaining on Moore’s contract do give him an advantage over Miller though, again putting into question the immediate future of the injury-prone veteran.