Boston Bruins: Kevan Miller ahead of Connor Clifton on depth chart

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 10: Kevan Miller #86 of the Boston Bruins takes a shot against the Washington Capitals during the first period at TD Garden on January 10, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 10: Kevan Miller #86 of the Boston Bruins takes a shot against the Washington Capitals during the first period at TD Garden on January 10, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Boston Bruins’ defenseman Kevan Miller has surpassed Connor Clifton on the depth chart.

After yesterday’s scrimmage, Boston Bruins‘ head coach Bruce Cassidy was asked about the competition between defensemen Kevan Miller and Connor Clifton.

Cassidy’s answer was that Miller has the upper-hand on Clifton because of his experience at the NHL level. Now, this statement itself doesn’t exactly mean much, but a tweet by Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty confirmed what most of us thought this statement meant.

Just five minutes after this tweet by Conor Ryan went out, Haggerty tweeted out that Cassidy said that Miller is ahead of Clifton on the depth chart and will most likely be slotting in on the right side of the B’s third defense pairing for the season opener.

This is great news for the Black and Gold as it means that Miller is 100% healthy for the first time since suffering a severe lower-body injury in April of 2019.

Miller has been with Boston his entire career and has suited up for 324 games with them, registering 12 goals and 55 assists for 67 points (0.21 points per game. Although Miller doesn’t produce much offensively, he’s a bigger shutdown defenseman at 6-foot-2 with a +80 career plus/minus (+/-).

Like Miller, Clifton also plays a defense-first style. However, Clifton has played in just 50 career NHL games, producing two goals and an assist for three points (0.06 points per game). Along with this, Clifton has a career +9 +/-.

So if Miller is healthy, he has the advantage in basically every category. He averages more points, is bigger, has played in more NHL games and blocks more shots per game. The only thing Clifton has on Miller is age and number of hits per game.

What should the Boston Bruins do with Connor Clifton?

Now, with Miller playing the right side on the third D-pairing, I don’t think Clifton should be sent down to Providence or put on the taxi squad. He’s too good of a shutdown defenseman for either of those options

Related Story. Boston Bruins: Prospect Urho Vaakanainen is NHL ready. light

Instead, I think the B’s should move him over to the left side. Yes, I think Clifton should get the role of playing the left side of the third pairing over rookies Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril. This is solely based on the fact that Clifton has played a full season in the NHL.

Additionally, this would allow the Bruins to put John Moore on the taxi squad and have either Vaakanainen or Zboril on the regular roster as a seventh defenseman and play favorable NHL matchups, or even send both of them back to the AHL.

Next. Boston Bruins: Cassidy Keeping Middle-Six Forwards Together Makes Sense. dark

Despite what Boston decides to do with Clifton, I think having Miller back and healthy is extremely beneficial. This brings much needed experience back to the B’s defensive corps and allows some flexibility and releases some pressure with Vaakanainen and Zboril.