Minnesota Wild v Boston Bruins

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Court Lalonde (follow @courtlalonde)

Colin Miller’s determination can be summed up in a quote from the Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, “I think I can, I think I can.” He has been one of the most improved players under coach Bruce Cassidy’s new system. He looks like a different player on the ice with the green light to skate with the puck, use that cannon of a shot and not just play dump and chase.

Miller has had to have a strong determination to succeed his whole hockey career. His Ontario Hockey League team, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds didn’t even draft him. He was a walk-on and made the team to play junior hockey. Miller had three goals and nineteen assists, with a plus-two rating on one of the worst teams in the OHL in his first season.

In 2011, his first year of eligibility for the National Hockey League draft he was passed over, but in 2012 he was selected in the fifth round, 151st overall by the Los Angeles Kings. Was known as an excellent puck mover, offensive defensemen, but lacked a physical presence. He would finish out the 2013 season with the Greyhounds and have his most productive year in the OHL. Miller had 20 goals, 35 assists, and a plus 13 rating. That made him the fourth leading scorer among defensemen in the OHL that year.

The next two seasons he would play for the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League. He had two very successful seasons in the AHL, winning the Calder Cup in 2015 and being selected to play in the AHL all-star game in 2014-15 season. During that all-star game, he won the fastest skater competition as well as the hardest shot competition, registering a 105.5 mph shot.

Miller was traded from the Kings, along with Martin Jones and the 13th overall pick (Jakub Zboril) at the 2015 entry draft for fan favorite Milan Lucic. Walking around Boston being known as the guy they traded Lucic for probably couldn’t have been easy on him. Making the Boston Bruins out of training camp that year was his first big break only to be sent back down to the AHL’s Providence Bruins half-way through the season, to finish out the year. This year is looking like his first full season with the Bruins but still, hasn’t played every game. He has been a healthy scratch some nights but in the last couple of months, has played well enough to keep himself in the lineup.

At the beginning of the year, you might have said we can leave him unprotected for the expansion draft. Recently, the pair of Kevin Miller and Colin Miller have been a great balance of grit and skill. His biggest asset is his offensive ability, along with his vision of the ice and being able to make that first pass. He has worked so hard for everything in his hockey career.  I feel by the end of the year; he will be one of those guys we say we have to keep and can’t afford to lose.