General Manager of the New Jersey Devils, Tom Fitzgerald, has made his third move of the first day of free agency. It is a trade. The Devils traded a 2025 fifth round pick to the Dallas Stars for defenseman Colin Miller. This has been confirmed by the New Jersey Devils at their website within the hour. What does Miller bring to the Devils? Let us take a closer look at him.
Colin Miller is a 30 year old defenseman who has been in the NHL since the 2015-16 season. He is a right-shooting defenseman with 466 regular games of NHL experience between Boston, Las Vegas, Buffalo, and Dallas. This means Miller has played for Devils assistant coach Ryan McGill. Miller also has 40 games of playoff experience; half of which coming from that Las Vegas run in 2018. He did play in 10 games with Dallas in the postseason but he was also a healthy scratch at points. Miller has chipped in some points, but not a massive amount with a career total of 35 goals and 157 points in those 466 games. Miller was on a two-season contract in Dallas worth $3.7 million. This trade clears $1.85 million of space for Dallas; the Devils will pay Miller $1.7 million in salary so they do save a little actual money compared to his cap hit. He will be an UFA after this season.
Per Natural Stat Trick, Miller’s on-ice rates in Dallas were favorable. Last season, the Stars took 53.5% of the attempts, 52.4% of the expected goals, and ~52.3% of the shots when Miller was on the ice. He certainly was not just a guy out there. Over his three seasons at Buffalo, Miller was not as favorable but was on the higher end during some rough Sabre seasons compared with other defensemen. When he was playing under McGill in Las Vegas, Miller had some of the best on-ice rates among defensemen in his two seasons as a G-Knight. His first two seasons were great in the run of play in Boston too. While Miller played in more limited roles and/or had superior teammates, he was definitely far from being a drain on his team in 5-on-5 play. His play may look unremarkable but he appears to be a reliable defender.
I would say the Devils added him just to add further depth to the blueline. With Damon Severson gone and Ryan Graves all but gone as of this writing, the Devils are committed to a blueline of Dougie Hamilton, John Marino, Jonas Siegenthaler, and a combination of Luke Hughes, Simon Nemec, Kevin Bahl (who needs a new contract), and Brendan Smith. Bahl definitely improved enough within this past season to get into playoff games over Smith. And Luke Hughes definitely showed he belonged in a handful of games. But between the potential for injury and to protect against any growing pains for Bahl, Hughes, and Nemec, the Devils could have used another depth defenseman. Colin Miller is exactly that.
It may seem a little pricey at $1.85 million added to New Jersey’s cap, which is now down to $5.6 million of space for Kevin Bahl’s next contract and any other additions (e.g. a third-string goaltender). However, it is also only for this one season and he appears to be more than solid enough to warrant his contract. It also does not block out Nemec or Hughes from making the team or Bahl from cementing his spot on defense. Should Miller respond well in a reunion with Ryan McGill, then this could be another shrewd move by Fitzgerald this Summer. A fifth rounder in two years is a very low cost; much better than paying too much for a depth defenseman in this year’s market. In other words, I like this deal.
As for Dallas, this move makes sense for them. Again, Miller was a solid player but there were nights he was scratched in the playoffs. That suggests that he was not in the team’s plans. Adding to that, the Stars had Nils Lundkvist and Joel Hanley in their system. Also, the Stars have been up against the cap. The relief from moving Miller’s cap hit helps them get up to $6.2 million in space along with giving Lundkvist and Hanley more of a chance. This trade could very well be a win-win deal for the season that it will last.
Now that you know what the deal is and what I think of it, I want to know what you think of the trade. Do you like the Devils trading a fifth rounder in 2025 for Colin Miller? What do you think of Miller? How do you think he slots into the Devils’ lineup? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the trade and Miller in the comments. Thank you for reading.