Last Season: A nice step up from his freshman year. He increase his goals by three, points by nine, +/- went up, penalties stayed roughly the same. He ended the year with a 7-17--24 line, good for eighth on the team. He was third in points (behind Porter and Kolarik) amongst our returning forwards. His 57 PIMs ranked him fourth on the team and first amongst forwards.
But offense isn't where he makes his mark. Miller is a very solid defensive player, and I don't think it'd be a stretch to say that he's the best checker out of all of our forwards. His 24 blocked shots ranked him fourth amongst forwards (behind Fardig, Kolarik and Rohlfs). The line of Naurato-Miller-Turnbull really started to play well down the stretch last year. Miller even got into the offense late in the year, scoring 6 points in the last six games.
Faceoffs were a bit of a bummer (44% on over 300 draws), but apart from that, I have no beef with his game.
Expectations: This paragraph is going to be pretty similar to Travis Turnbull's. I've been comparing the two since as far back as my "Season In Review" at the end of the 05-06 season.
#18 Tim Miller: I love Timmy Miller. Once Turnbull fell off from his fast start, Miller really started to play well. Great penalty killer, responsible in his own end, he can hit, and he's not clueless offensively. Just a good all-around guy that (like Turnbull) we're going to be happy to have for four years. He's one of the unsung guys of the team because he's not going to put up the flashy numbers or be a high draft pick. But he's just solid, solid, solid and you can put him out there in any situation. I'm very happy with him.
Final Grade: B+
So there ya go. I still think they're very similar players, with Miller having the edge as slightly more abrasive and slightly more offensively gifted.
As with Turnbull, I think it's pretty clear what we're going to get from Miller at this point. He'll be in the mid-20s in points, mid 50s in PIMs, solid defensively, good penalty killer, and a mean son-of-a-bitch to play against. Not the type of player who is going to get his name chanted or have people make up shirts about him, but the type of player that you need to have a winning team. And the type of player that I love watching.
He also might be someone to keep an eye on offensively. He does have some offensive skills. He's actually a pretty darn good passer for a checking-line player, and his seven goals came on just 53 shots, for a pretty solid .132 shooting percentage. He played with Turnbull and Naurato for a good chunk of the year last year. In the captain's practice that Bob Miller attended, he was with Caporusso and Palushaj to make up the most productive line of the day. If he ends up as the physical player on a scoring line, he could crack the 30 point plateau.
Level of Necessity: 7 out of 10.
I have to have him just a tick higher than Turnbull because I do think that offensive upside is there. By and large, they're similar players, and I imagine that they'll end up playing together again this year as two components of a solid checking line and a nice PK unit.
I really, really like this kid.
Other Stuff: I like this section because I get to point out little tidbits that I notice when I'm looking at stuff from last season. Andrew Cogliano was absolutely ridiculous. Do you realize that he ended the season with a 27% shooting percentage? 23 games into the season, it was almost 35%. That's kind of insane and it makes me wish that he had shot the puck more (he only had 89 shots on goal the entire season, which ranked him 7th on the team).
And as a team, our shooting percentage was worse on the power play than it was at even strength. That seems like it'd be pretty hard to do.
Manningham is out against Eastern for a violation of a team rule. I don't know what it is with these guys, but I'm getting pretty sick of seeing stuff like this in the papers. It seems like we've had an abnormally large number of guys getting arrested and whatnot in the last year. I don't know what the answer is (longer suspensions? more meaningful suspensions? making them watch Gingell kick field goals?) but it needs to get taken care of.