More than four hours into the start of free agency, the Bruins made their first move out on the free-agent market, with Boston Hockey Now's Jimmy Murphy being the first to report that Boston re-signed veteran defenseman Kevan Miller to a one-year contract.
Per PuckPedia, the one-year contract has a base salary of $1 million with an additional $1 million available in terms of performance bonuses.
Miller's trademark snarl and physical play were often missed near the bottom of Boston's D corps over the last season, with the veteran defenseman unable to play for the entire 2019-20 season while recovering from a severe knee injury that he suffered way back on April 4, 2019. He has yet to appear in an NHL game since — undergoing four total surgeries on the same knee in the span of 14 months.
Just ahead of Boston's eventual run to the Cup Final in 2019, Miller suffered a severe injury in Boston's penultimate regular-season matchup against the Wild, suffering a vertical fracture to his kneecap. Despite such an ailment, an undeterred Miller remained hopeful for a shot to play in the Stanley Cup Final — traveling down to North Carolina with the rest of the club for Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Hurricanes.
However, while rehabbing off the ice, Miller suffered a horizontal fracture to the same kneecap — ending his season for good and forcing the rugged defenseman to watch his team fight, and eventually fall, to the Blues over the following weeks.
Since then, it's been a year of setbacks and frustrations for Miller, who appeared ready to rejoin the Bruins in November 2019 — even skating at Warrior Ice Arena — before additional setbacks prompted a pair of additional procedures that put his 2019-20 season on ice.
When we last spoke to Miller back in June, he was back with his family at their offseason home in Colorado — close to Dr. Matthew Provencher, who performed both his second and fourth surgeries on his knee. Since then, Miller has continued to work to get his knee right and return to the ice. Based on a video posted by his agent, Peter Fish, it appears as though he's made progress since the start of the spring.
Ultimately, a deal like this isn't much of a surprise — as most predicted that Boston likely would have offered Miller a PTO contract and a spot at training camp if no teams signed the defenseman. Given that most of this contract will likely be tied to those bonuses, it's a harmless move that, if Miller is able to return and avoid injury, could give Boston a solid depth option and a physical presence that can be called upon when needed. And if things unfortunately don't pan out, at least the club can say they gave the tenacious skater a shot — while not being on the hook for much in terms of cap commitment.