By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
We still don't have a definitive date for the 2020-21 NHL season.
But Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller is confident he'll be on the ice and in action for the Bruins when that night comes.
"I’m doing really well," Miller, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $2 million earlier this offseason, said. "Knee is feeling great, body is feeling great. Obviously, had a lot of time to get things in order. I’m making really good progress. I’ve been skating two to three times a week. I’ve been training. I’m really, super excited to have the opportunity to play again. If we were playing right now, I wouldn’t be cleared. But come puck-drop, I definitely will be.
"I have no doubt in my mind I will be 100 percent by then."
It's quite a claim from Miller, as the 32-year-old Miller missed the entire 2019 postseason run and all of last season. In fact, Miller hasn't been on the ice for an NHL game since the penultimate game of the 2018-19 regular season (Apr. 4, 2019), which ended with Miller suffering a broken kneecap on a crash into the boards at Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center.
Miller then broke the kneecap again during the 2019 playoffs in an attempt to return in what turned out to be a 15-win playoff run, and has undergone multiple procedures since, including one that derailed his comeback hopes early last season.
But it's not as bad as it sounds, according to Miller.
"In all honesty, after the second surgery – and I came back last year in October, I was days away from being cleared to play and that’s what’s so unfortunate," Miller offered. "It really wasn’t like a catastrophic injury.
"There was a series of kind of bad luck and some unfortunate things that happened and maybe a little bit of over training and a little bit of naïve on some aspects of it, how things would go. I was so close to being back. I think just the time to heal correctly without a timetable on it, that I’m very – [with the] the docs, I’ve gone through my workup and all that stuff. I have no real, true issues with the knee. No arthritis, no ligament damage, no nothing. It’s just a bone-heal and a little bit of the quad tendon that needed a little bit of time. And that’s where I’m ready to go. I’m fortunate."
A healthy Miller in 2020-21 would compete for minutes with Connor Clifton (and Jeremy Lauzon) as the B's right-side muscle on a third pairing opposite John Moore (or Lauzon or perhaps Jakub Zboril). The uncertainty surrounding Zdeno Chara also makes for an interesting situation with Miller, too, as bringing Chara back for a 15th season would give the Bruins nine defensemen signed to NHL contracts for next season if Miller is indeed ready to go.
But with over a year and a half between games for the California-born defender, nothing's certain just yet.
"I have a little bit of work still ahead of me," Miller admitted. "But I know that come time when it’s puck-drop, I’ll be ready to go and I can promise you, I’ll be itching to get on the ice and pull that jersey over my head."