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Wings get deals done for Miller, Kindl

Veteran forward and defenseman sign for three- and four-years, respectively

Saturday, 06.29.2013 / 11:00 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Wings get deals done for Miller, Kindl

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DETROIT – The Red Wings tied up a few loose ends before heading to the NHL draft in New Jersey this weekend, signing veteran forward Drew Miller and defenseman Jakub Kindl to long-term deals.

The club announced Saturday that they have signed Miller to a three-year contract through the 2015-16 season, and Kindl to a four-year deal, which will expire following the 2016-17 campaign.

Miller, who could have become an unrestricted free agent next week, wasn’t really interested in testing the open market. Claimed off waivers in early 2008-09, Miller, who was a standout player at Michigan State, wanted to stay in Michigan where the Miller name is synonymous with hockey.

“I'm really happy the deal got done,” he told The Associated Press on June 14. “I wanted to stay because I feel like I've become one of the key parts of the team.

“It’s great to have that security. It won’t change how hard I work, but it’s just nice to know you’re wanted for the next three years.”

The 29-year-old Miller produced four goals, including two game-winning tallies in 44 games during the lockout-shortened NHL season. He had a game-winning goal and an assist in six playoff games after coming back from a hand injury that sidelined him for 12 contests, including the entire first-round playoff series against Anaheim.

Miller is a defensive-minded, penalty-killing forward and he played a crucial role for the Red Wings on a fourth line centered by Cory Emmerton, but when Miller was out of the lineup with a broken right hand the Wings’ penalty-kill clearly suffered.

“I'm a huge fan of Millsie,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said last month. “Millsie’s an important part of this team. When he was out, we missed him.”

Meanwhile, Kindl avoids becoming a restricted free agent on July 5. His signing means the Red Wings have seven NHL defensemen currently under contract, leaving Brendan Smith as the only unsigned blueliner. He is eligible to be a RFA next Friday, as are forwards Gustav Nyqust and Joakim Andersson.

The Red Wings also have to decide what they will do with center Valtteri Filppula, and wingers Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner, all will become UFAs on Friday.

Like Miller, Kindl said he too had no interest in playing anywhere other than Detroit.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” said Kindl when asked last month if he hoped to return to the Wings next season.

At least for the next day, Kindl remains the highest overall draft pick taken by the Red Wings in the last 21 years. The 26-year-old from Sumperk, Czech Republic, was selected No. 19, however. Detroit hold the No. 18 overall pick in this Sunday’s NHL draft, which will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Kindl’s stock rose this season as he began to gain greater confidence. He played with more grit, purpose and determination as he received increased playing time with a cluster of injuries sabotaged the defensive unit during the season. He played the last 31 straight games of the regular season and in all 14 playoff games.

Kindl had a career-high four goals, including two game winners, while tying a career-high with 13 points in 41 games. He collected a goal – which happened to be the game winner in Game 4 against Chicago – and four assists in the playoffs. He also led all Wings’ defensemen in plus/minus in both the regular season (+15) and postseason (+4).

The improvement shown by Kindl in the last half of the year kept veteran defenseman Ian White out of the lineup from early April through the end of the Wings’ playoff run. White, who will be a UFA, has been told by the Red Wings that he won’t be brought back.

“I’ve said it many times, it’s all about confidence,” Kindl said during the season. “It’s different when you play 10-minutes or 20-minutes, you know? That’s how I look at it. … Every time I play I just try to do the right things. Play simple, play good defensively and I believe if I do all of that stuff, play hard, that good things will happen. That’s how I look at it.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89