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Bruins lose Colin Miller to Golden Knights in expansion draft

Colin Miller, a hard-shooting, puck-moving defenseman, scored six goals for the Bruins last season. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Presto. The Vegas Golden Knights, a franchise previously with a sparkling new rink but no names, conjured up an entire roster like a Vegas magic act Wednesday night in the highly anticipated NHL expansion draft, plucking young, mobile defenseman Colin Miller off the Bruins roster as one of their 30 picks.

Miller, 24, was in and out of the Bruins’ lineup much of the past season and was called into the playoff lineup in April only after the Bruins sustained a string of injuries along the blue line.

His loss will not disrupt Boston’s 2017-18 back line, but all NHL clubs are loath to lose young talent the likes of Miller, whose speed, mobility and dynamic shot no doubt were what convinced the Knights to include him in their inaugural mix — at least for now.


“The Boston Bruins want to thank Colin for his time and contributions to our organization,” said GM Don Sweeney, in a media release issued by the club. “We wish Colin well as he begins an exciting new chapter.”

No telling what sort of deals Vegas GM George McPhee will conjur up, perhaps as early as Thursday, one day prior to the league staging its two-day draft in Chicago.

Miller, obtained by the Bruins two years ago in the swap that sent Milan Lucic to Los Angeles, joins a Vegas D corps headlined by ex-Senator Marc Methot, a favorite partner of elite defenseman Erik Karlsson. In the larger picture, Ottawa’s loss of Methot could be more significant to the Bruins — who lost to Ottawa in the playoffs this season — than the loss of Miller.

When the Golden Knights’ draft choices were made official Wednesday night, amid the fanfare of the league’s annual awards ceremony in Vegas, Methot and Jason Garrison, a reliable part of the Tampa back line the last three years, were the top priced (average cap hit $4.75 million) Vegas D-men. Next in line was former Hab Alexei Emelin ($4.1 million cap).


By selecting Miller, the Golden Knights left the Bruins with Adam McQuaid’s valued muscle and grit still on the blueline. It was widely speculated for months that Vegas would take either McQuaid or Miller, and McPhee chose Miller’s youth and speed over McQuaid’s experience (age 30, 424 career games) size, and muscle.

McPhee, former boss of the Capitals, made it clear in recent weeks he was intent on making deals as part of the draft process, with an eye on hording draft picks. He owns the No. 6 pick in Friday night’s opening round.

By early Wednesday afternoon, the rumor mill had it that the Wild successfully steered McPhee away from taking top defenseman Matt Dumba, offering up coveted prospect Alex Tuch, the former BC star winger. Tuch departed the Heights following his 2015-16 sophomore season and toiled last season with AHL Iowa, where he collected 37 points in 57 games.

Tuch could have Bruins GM Don Sweeney calling on McPhee, with Boston eager to shore up depth at wing. The strapping Tuch, 6-feet-4-inches and 222 pounds with a righthanded shot, was a first-round pick (No. 18) in 2014, just prior to his freshman year at BC. Sweeney late last month said he would consider dealing his top pick, also No. 18, in this week’s draft.

Tuch, who turned 21 just last month, would be a reasonable and intriguing quid pro quo, bringing the Bruins a young, broad-shouldered candidate to play on one of their two top lines centered by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.


As expected, the Knights staked their immediate net fortunes on Marc-Andre Fleury, left unprotected by the Penguins after recently getting his name on the Stanley Cup for a third time in his 13 years in Pittsburgh. Now 32 years old, Fleury likely will be counted on to play upward of 65 games a year, a workload he was accustomed to the past three seasons until coach Mike Sullivan showed more game-to-game confidence in young stud Matt Murray.

For the moment, the Knights look severely challenged up front, where their highest-scoring forward is the vastly overpaid, underperforming David Clarkson (three more years at $5.25 million cap hit). But to take Clarkson off Columbus’s hands, the Blue Jackets reportedly added a first-round pick, adding to McPhee’s potential treasure trove.

The Knights also picked up former Bruins forward Reilly Smith, who came to Boston from Dallas in the controversial Tyler Seguin swap. Sweeney two years ago dumped Smith and the injured Marc Savard on the Panthers, who soon gave Smith a five-year, $25 million contract extension, which looked prudent two seasons ago when he connected for 25-25—50 production. But Smith last season slipped back to a mediocre 15-22—37, leaving the Panthers eager to find a trade partner to take on the four years left on his deal.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.