MacDermid ready to recreate his NHL moment

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MacDermid ready to recreate his NHL moment

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. Lane MacDermid admitted that his mind was racing more than a little bit as he was trading punches with Mike Rupp during his first NHL fight at Madison Square Garden last spring.

The one dominating thought going through his head: Damn . . . how cool is this? Thats quite an experience for the son of an NHL player during his first game in The Show against a big time team in the Rangers.

"I remember during the fight thinking to myself 'Im fighting in the NHL right now. This is pretty cool,' " said MacDermid with a wide smile on his face. "Even just sitting on the bench at the start of the game was pretty cool."

MacDermid and Chris Bourque both signed AHL deals with the Bruins organizations on Wednesday in anticipation of the P-Bruins first preseason game against the Springfield Falcons tonight in Marlboro. MacDermid should be busy this season protecting Ryan Spooner among others this season in Providence, and he knows thats his first priority. But now MacDermid has that sweet NHL taste in his mouth after debuting with Boston last season, and is ready for more.

He clearly has Shawn Thornton ahead of him on the organizational depth charts for that particular role, but its more than possible he could be added as reinforcements if things go all Adams Division against beefed up clubs like Montreal and Buffalo.

I usually work pretty hard in the summer, and I feel like Ive come a long way from where I started as a pro, said MacDermid, who hopes hes called up to an abbreviated Boston training camp when the NHL regular season does begin. I just want to continue on that line. Throughout the summer I was watching and had the lockout in mind, so I was ready for all this.

Now Ive experienced all of the different aspects of the NHL. Its the elite league of the world and I was just happy to be there. It was a great experience all-around.

It will be most interesting in this lockout world to watch players like MacDermid, Matt Bartkowski, Jordan Caron and youngsters like Spooner and Jared Knight as theres a tangible connection between them and NHL hockey. The AHL enforcer and Bs draft pick did his usual power skating drills and strength-work during the summer, but also focused quite a bit on the mental side of the game.

In the past MacDermid would let anger and frustration get the best of him, and its an important emotion on the ice given his propensity to drop the gloves. But the Bs brawler also needs to harness those fiery feelings to effectively do his job protecting teammates and sending out a vibe of intimidation.

There are always things you can work on. I work on the mental game and I work on the skating aspect. Puck-handling is always something that I need to work on, said MacDermid. Theyre all just things I need to go to get ready.

The journey back to the NHL starts anew for MacDermid with the start of the P-Bruins preseason games, and hell be looking to add to that NHL fight resume after an auspicious start.

Miller 'blessed for the opportunity' to remain with Bruins

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Miller 'blessed for the opportunity' to remain with Bruins

To the surprise of pretty much nobody, Kevan Miller was ecstatic with the four year, $10 million contract extension handed to him by the Boston Bruins on Tuesday afternoon. The 28-year-old is a hard-hitting, big and strong defenseman in the Bruins mold, and has proven he can be a bottom-pairing defenseman in the NHL over the last three seasons of steady improvement.

So Miller was happy to keep things going with the Bruins and spend his prime years playing for the only NHL organization he’s known since signing as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont.

“I’d like to start off by saying thank you to the Jacobs family, Cam Neely, Don Sweeney, and the rest of the Bruins organization. I’m truly blessed for this opportunity and I’m very thankful. I’d like to also say thank you to my family, my friends – they’ve all helped me get to this point,” said Miller, who would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1. “Boston is a great city to play in, and we have the best fans in the NHL. I’m very thankful to them as well.

“I love playing here; it’s an honor to put that jersey on before every game. I feel my style of play fits in well here. I’m really looking forward to helping this [Bruins] team get back into the playoffs and reach our ultimate goal, and win a Stanley Cup.”

On the plus side of the ledger, Miller skated in a career-high 71 games last season and established career highs in goals (five), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53) while posting the second-best plus/minus rating on the team with a plus-15. Miller topped 19 minutes of ice time per game and played top pairing D-man minutes with Zdeno Chara for much of the season without another viable candidate able to step up into that spot.

On the minus side, Miller has had shoulder problems and concussion issues in his recent past while missing healthy portions of time in just about every season of his pro hockey career. He will be overpaid at $2.5 million per season if he turns into nothing more than a 5-6 defenseman for the Bruins, and it’s hard to imagine Miller ever truly flourishing as a top-4 defenseman given the body of work over the last two seasons.

Nevertheless, Miller hopes to keep improving at an NHL age (28) where you are pretty much a finished product on the ice.

“Everyone’s always trying to improve their game. As you can see, the NHL is changing every year, whether it gets faster here or there. But the game changes a lot and you have to be able to go along with that, and change your game in different ways,” said Miller. “I’m going to stay true to how I play, but I think there are areas where I can improve on, that I will improve on. I’m looking forward to it.”

Given the relatively rich contract that Miller will enjoy over the next four seasons, the Bruins are banking on the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman improving as he goes in Boston as well. 

Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

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Bruins sign Kevan Miller to four-year, $10 million deal

BOSTON -- The Bruins locked up a piece to a blue line that was godawful last season in announcing they’d signed Kevan Miller to a four-year, $10 million contract.

They also retained one of their own young restricted free agents, center Seth Griffith, by reaching agreement on a one-year, two-way deal with an NHL value of $625,000 per season.

Miller, 28, played in a career-high 71 games last season -- his third with the Bruins -- and established career highs in goals (5), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53). He also posted the second-best plus/minus rating on the team (plus-15) and generally seemed to be playing his best hockey down the stretch.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Miller was also forced into playing 19:04 of ice time per night while oftentimes serving as a top-pair D-man alongside Zdeno Chara. That resulted in a high number of mistakes and turnovers at critical times against the opposition’s best offensive players.

The rugged, hardnosed Miller obviously isn’t going to be judged solely by the numbers. He's also evaluated by the big hits, blocked shots and air of intimidation in the defensive zone. That said, a four-year contract is a bit of a head-scratcher, given that Miller wasn’t expected to command that kind of deal as an unrestricted free agent on the open market.

That four-year deal, which carries a yearly cap hit of $2.5 million, would also seem to hint at the impending exodus of Adam McQuaid or Dennis Seidenberg, or both, given the number of limited stay-at-home defensemen on the roster now making decent NHL money.  

The bottom line: Miller’s contract will be a good one if he can settle into a steady, top-four role. But it will be another overpay if he winds up being the bottom-pairing D-man many see him as at the NHL level.

Griffith had 24 goals and 53 assists for 77 points in 57 games for the Providence Bruins last season, and also had an assist in four games for Boston. He'll get another chance this year to compete for one of the winger jobs at the NHL level with plenty of competition.