Jun 7, 2013, 12:24 PM EDT
Drew Miller will be an unrestricted free agent on July 5, and should have some suitors on the open market.
That’s assuming one of his biggest fans doesn’t lobby to keep him in Detroit.
Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock praised the 29-year-old forward on Thursday, saying that Miller was a big part of Detroit’s success in 2013.
“I’m a huge fan of Millsie,” Babcock told MLive.com. “Millsie’s an important part of this team. When he was out, we missed him.
“Let’s just watch it all play out.”
Miller had 4G-4A in 44 games this season and averaged close to 14 minutes a night. He missed extensive time late in the season with a broken hand, but returned for Game 2 of the Chicago series and proceeded to score two points in six games — including the game-winning goal in Game 3.
The former Anaheim Duck is in the final year of a two-year, $1.675 million deal ($837,500 cap hit) with Detroit and showed great promise in 2011-12, when he posted career-highs in goals (14) and points (25).
Miller said he wants to return to Detroit.
“I would like to stay,” he told MLive. “I got to talk to Babs and to (general manager) Kenny Holland, figure out what their approach is to coming back.
“But, being in a position to have options is something that could possibly be looked at, but my first choice would be to stay.”
What might prevent Miller’s return is the numbers game.
Detroit has 19 players signed for next year with about $11 million in available cap space, but does have a number of forwards needing new contracts — UFAs Valtteri Filppula, Dan Cleary and Damien Brunner; RFAs Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist.
- Comeback fit for a King: Lundqvist, Rangers even series in Game 4 12
- WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Lightning, Game 4 of Eastern Conference Final 6
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL 38
- All eyes on Lundqvist 10
- Quenneville opted for ‘fresh legs’ by inserting Nordstrom, Versteeg into lineup 12
- Video: Ducks hold off Blackhawks in Game 3 to take series lead 30
- (Video) PHT Extra: On Babcock, sticking to the process and housebuilding analogies 3
- Babcock predicts ‘pain’ for Leafs, who are a ‘massive, massive challenge’ 39
- Babcock wants to ‘put Canada’s team back on the map’ 48
- Flyers won’t trade Del Zotto, but ‘something will have to give’ on crowded blue line 26
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (172)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (91)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)