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Babcock ‘a huge fan’ of Miller, but will Detroit bring him back?

Jun 7, 2013, 12:24 PM EDT

Mike Babcock, Drew Miller AP

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 “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.

  1. bensawesomeness - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    one of the best pk-ers in the league, if they don’t bring him back, it’s a mistake

  2. atoj777 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Val is gone. He’ll seek more money than what the Wings are willing to pay for a prospect who, while is a solid player, still doesn’t put up the numbers or have the on ice presence of a $5 mill player.

    Cleary will be signed for his same salary with a possible minor increase for 2 more years. Solid grinder, who isn’t a large body but makes his presence felt on the ice by winning board battles.

    Brunner is a tough call. He sits in a place where after a strong rookie start, a bubble team with cap space and bad upper management will pay big money for an unproven player. Wings have cap space to sign him to multimillion dollar deal, but if that happens it’ll be a short 2 or 3 year deal.

    Anderson should be signed to a $500k-$800k 3 year deal. Great work effort all season.

    Nyquist showed great speed and scoring potential all season and especially in the playoffs. Signed to a ~$1 mill 4-5 year deal. Him and Helm would make a very scary combination.

    • atoj777 - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Forgot to note that the topic of the article, Drew Miller, will be able to be signed by the Wings as they will have money in the bank to tack on another half mill to his deal.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      I highly doubt Nyquist signs a 4-5 yr deal at only $1mil. He will want a bridge contract, most likely 2 years at around that cap hit. He’s what? 23? So there’s no way he gives up a few valuable UFA years to make a million dollars annually. Especially if he breaks out in the first few years… then he’s stuck. No agent in their right mind would ever accept that contract. He gets a short bridge deal to prove he’s a player then he’ll get 4-5 yr deal (w a greater cap hit) depending on production.

    • bensawesomeness - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      I think you’re right, i think keeping Val for anywhere near what he’s asking would be a mistake, Cleary and Miller have both earned extensions with maybe a small raise ( sounds like Cleary played with a partially separated shoulder in the 2nd round, respect beyond words.)

      Nyquist and Anderson both earned spots on the team too ( or at least contracts )

      i think the real question this offseason is how much Brunner asks for. Yeah he had a great start but he petered off at the end.

      That being said, if you let him walk, you have a half decent team, and a bit of room to sign a Bickell or a Streit. But every game Bickell scores in now, he’s just earning himself millions this offseason

    • clefty1 - Jun 7, 2013 at 6:31 PM

      I would take Brunner over Cleary, It is time for Cleary to move on…

      • dtownbeatdown - Jun 7, 2013 at 6:59 PM

        I agree, Cleary had a decent playoffs. But I have been calling for him to go the past two seasons. The guy clearly misses the net 90% of the time. He is a grinder, but not a tough guy in any means.

        Can we get Dino Ciccerilli out of retirement to cause some frustration in front of the oppositions net?

  3. chibimike - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Val will be gone. Please let Cleary move on, I can’t handle another season of seeing him pass to nobody, or send his one timer 6 feet from the net. Sign the other 3 and Miller.

  4. clefty1 - Jun 7, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    The Wings need to add a top 6 forward, Cleary is not a top 6 forward, neither is Abby for that matter and the Wings have enough bottom 6 forwards, Andersson emerged and Helm was sidelined this past season it is a tough call on Miller because he does help on the bottom 6 forwards and he kills penalties but there may not be enough room for him.

  5. dtownbeatdown - Jun 7, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    Lets see we have Brunner, Nyquist, Tatar, Filppula, which to me are all the same type of player. They are great puck handlers, but weak on the puck. Filp is going to want to much, he did not do much this year. So I say cut ties with him. As for the other 3 guys, I say keep them another year at least to see what happens.

    Kindl can go, I can’t stand watching that guy get his shots blocked every single time, he is too nervous with the puck, same goes for Smith, they just don’t have the vision. Smith looked terrible in the playoffs, he can’t control the puck let alone get a clean pass out.

    I know some of you will disagree, but I think Franzen could be let go as well, he is so spotty with his effort you never know what Franzen is going to come out on the ice that night. He showed up in the playoffs, but was obsolete in the regular season. Which seems to be the case lately with him, he just looks lazy at times.

    We have such a solid young core right now it will be hard to cut ties with the younger guys, but if some other team is willing to over spend on these guys it might be an option. But I would like to see these guys grow and see what kind of potential the achieve.

    I really can’t see us getting rid of Miller, he is too good on the pk.

    I know this is far fetched, but I see us getting a big name forward in the off season, and trading for a big d man. We will be the only elite team under the salary cap I believe so we will have options.

    Anyone know what is going on with Tootoo?

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