DETROIT – Drew Miller got his wish.
The Wings have inked their penalty-kill specialist to a three-year deal worth $4.05 million a season to stay in Detroit.
“It’s definitely a relief to get it done this quick,” Miller said during a phone interview with The Macomb Daily. “I’m excited to be back with the Red Wings for a three-year deal. It’s a place I didn’t want to leave. My first choice was not to go into free agency and stay with the Red Wings. This is where I wanted to be.”
Miller, 29, got a nice little raise from the $850,000 her made last season.
“The three years gives you a little bit of stability,” said Miller, who’ll make $1.35 million a season. “They won’t give you a three-year deal if they didn’t want you for that long. It feels good to get the three years, but at the same time this is pro sports you have to work hard to earn your spot every day. I’ll take the same approach I always have, the three years shows that they want you, but at the same time you need to work hard to keep it and earn something.”
Miller could have opted for free agency that begins on July 5, but wanted to get a deal done to remain in Detroit as quickly as possible.
“I wanted to get a deal done early and not wait for free agency,” Miller said. “I didn’t want to get to free agency. We were able to come together a lot quicker on numbers because of it I think.
“I would have gone to free agency had I had to, but I wanted to talk to Detroit first and try and get something done with them,” Miller continued. “They were my first choice. This is where I wanted to stay.”
Miller’s last deal, which was a two-year extension, wasn’t reached until just before the free agency period began.
“I think the last time I was in a way different spot,” Miller said. “This year with the lockout, it wasn’t a whole year, but having that much more experience has been great for me and it shows that the Red Wings have confidence in me. I’ve grown over the last two years.”
Miller, who’s scored 38 goals in his time in Detroit, is an energy player Wings coach Mike Babcock loves. He’s a strong penalty killer and has a bit of an offensive upside, who doesn’t mind going to the high-traffic areas to score goals.
“I’m a huge fan of Millsie,” Babcock said. “Millsie’s an important part of this team. When he was out, we missed him.”
Miller, who had four goals and four assists in 44 games this season, broke his right hand on April 20 in Vancouver when he was hit by a puck.
After missing the final four regular season games, Miller returned for Game 2 of the Wings’ second round playoff series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
He scored the game-winning goal in Game 3 against the Blackhawks, who eventually won the series in seven games.
“The team is really coming into its own right now especially with the way things finished with year,” Miller said. “Losing to Chicago was heartbreaking, but at the same time it showed everyone around the league and especially in our locker room that we have the ability to be a good team.”
Miller was claimed off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 11, 2009.
“I think I found a role that I can play here and they count on me to do that night in, night out,” Miller said. “I’m taking some time off now and will start working out soon. I’m doing all that relaxing kind of stuff that Michigan summers allow you to do.”