The Bruins career of Kevan Miller remains in doubt.
General manager Don Sweeney said Friday on a video conference call the rugged defenseman has been training, but would not be able to play even if the 2019-20 season were to resume this summer.
“Kevan’s just had some setbacks,” Sweeney said of Miller, who hasn’t played in 53 weeks because of a twice-broken kneecap. “I don’t believe … it’ll be in his best interest to ramp up in a short span with the hopes of playing this year. Our intentions are for Kevan to be 100 percent healthy so he can resume when we start the next season.”
Intent aside, Miller could be squeezed out of the mix in Boston.
He doesn’t have a contract for 2020-21. He did not play at all last season. His combination of age (32), unfortunate health, and uncertainty with the salary cap makes it unlikely the Bruins would offer him anything close to his previous number ($2.5 million).
With the end of this season hanging in the balance, and revenues uncertain, Sweeney and his GM peers do not know the parameters of the next salary cap, which was originally expected to rise from $81.5 million to between $84 million and $88.2 million. Sweeney said he is modeling several different versions of his roster, with different cap scenarios.
“I’ve been in touch with all the RFAs’ and UFAs’ agents,” he said. “I think we’ve all agreed, in some of those cases, it’s better to wait.”
The Bruins’ highest-profile free agent is defenseman Torey Krug, who is due a raise from his $5.25 million salary. Krug, represented by agent Lewis Gross, said Monday there has not been progress between the sides since the NHL paused March 12. Sweeney echoed Krug’s comments from that day, when he said he hoped he hasn’t played his last game as a Bruin.
“I dearly hope Torey hasn’t played his last game [with us] this year or going forward,” Sweeney said. “He’s a special player, on the off the ice. He means a lot in the locker room. I think everybody could acknowledge his attributes on the ice.
“In a cap world, we have to try to fit the pieces together. We’ve had very, very good discussions with Torey’s group. We just haven’t found a landing spot.”
Other UFAs: netminder Jaroslav Halak, who will be 35 on May 13, captain Zdeno Chara (now 43); and winger Joakim Nordstrom. Restricted free agents include wingers Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.
In Miller’s absence, rookies Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon pushed to be the sixth defenseman. Clifton will count $1 million against the cap next season, Lauzon $850,000.
“We’ll entertain the opportunity to bring Kevan back,” said Sweeney, who signed him to a four-year, $10 million deal in 2016. “He will also entertain whether he wants to come back.”
The former Vermont captain has been with the Bruins since 2011, when he signed as an undrafted free agent. He has been a well-liked member of the organization. He has not been lucky.
A broken hand, fractured larynx and torn oblique limited him to 39 games in 2018-19. In the team’s 81st game of the year, April 4, 2019 in Minnesota, Miller tangled with Jordan Greenway and slid into the boards, fracturing his right kneecap. While working out in preparation for a return to skating — his eyes on Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final —Miller broke the same kneecap.
The first break, Miller told the Globe months later, ran vertically across the cap. According to Miller, the new break ran horizontally across the cap, near one of the surgical screws installed in the prior operation. It made for a more complex rehab because of the natural force the quad muscle exerts on the kneecap.
Miller skated a handful of times on his own last season. It is believed he last took the ice in late January.
“He needs to get back to being fully healthy,” Sweeney said. “I don’t think, in a short span, we’re going to want to put him in any situation where we can jeopardize any further setbacks. He’s got a longer timeline.”
Well-wishes for Cave
Sweeney opened his call with well wishes for Colby Cave, the ex-Bruins center hospitalized by a brain bleed. Cave’s family said in a statement Thursday the 25-year-old remains in a medically induced coma in a Toronto hospital. He had emergency surgery Tuesday to remove a colloid cyst, which was causing the bleed. “He’s a special young man,” Sweeney said. “He needs our love and support right now.” … Sweeney said no Bruins player or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19 … Sweeney is hopeful the NHL will conclude the regular season and playoffs, but said any return should not be rushed. “We’ve been off the ice for almost a month now,” he said. “We can’t assume, regardless of how much work players have done, that they’re going to be in game shape. We need a lot of lead-up, build time. We’ll have to cross our fingers we’ll be able to do that.” … With the help of video, the Bruins’ scouting department is preparing for the draft, the date of which has yet to be announced.
Matt Porter can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.