Building the Herd – Joe Miller

#23 Joe Miller

Position: Forward

Born: Caerdydd, Cymru

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 25th April

 

After announcing the return of Joe Rand last week, Doug Sheppard announced a further forward would be rejoining the Herd for 2013/14 in the shape of high scoring British forward, Joe Miller.

Miller, 28 will be entering his 3rd season with the Bison after a career that has seen him travel the length and breadth of England and Wales plying his trade. After coming through the junior ranks in Cardiff, Miller’s career has seen stops in the BNL, EPL and EIHL with the likes of Telford, Coventry and Manchester. Miller was part of the Peterborough Phantoms EPL grand slam winning side of 2008/09 and won the 2010/11 EPL title with Manchester after his mid-season move from the Phantoms to the Phoenix. After winning the league trophy with the Phoenix, Miller was snapped up by then head coach Steve Moria for the 2011/12 campaign and Miller’s been part of the Herd ever since. In 102 games for the Bison, Miller has 56 goals and 60 assists for 116 points despite missing a chunk of the 2012/13 season with a groin injury. Miller’s EPL career sees him averaging 1.29 points per game in 472 contests and should play his 500th career EPL sometime in early 2014. Miller has also represented Great Britain at under 18 and under 20 level.

 

Two weeks in a row, two very popular forward signings from Doug Sheppard; it’s the good standard Bison PR at the moment. Those who were hoping a new signing this week, the inevitable question of who our starting netminder will be still looming, need to remember two things; new signings generally come at season ticket night with a bit more of a fanfare and Joe Miller is a cracking signing.

Having lost Greg Owen to retirement, Miller becomes all the more vital as part of the team because at EPL level he is a high end Brit. He scores goals, goes to the front of the net and into the corners. Miller has the ability to be both the gritty and the skilful player as and when required. When at Manchester he was overused on a straight checking line which is not his forte. Miller is a creative player and yes he can check and yes he can grind and yes he has a good two way game but his skillset means if you stick him on the third line just running around hitting, you’re wasting a large amount of his talents. Miller is responsible in his own zone but let’s be honest here, Joe is best going forward. You put the puck on his stick and watch him go.

That said we shouldn’t play down the defensive side of his game. As crazy as it sounds, I find it really entertaining watching Miller on the penalty kill. You should try it one time during the next season. Sheppard’s penalty killing strategy generally allows one man to play very high on the forecheck and pressure the other team. Sheppard does this when he’s on the ice and Miller is the other player who really excels at this task. Many is the time he’s managed to force turnovers or at least force the other team back into their own zone to kill off some of the powerplay just by getting into the zone and hassling the other team. His foot speed also provides opportunities because if the puck is dumped into the zone, Miller can generally catch most defencemen even if they have a bit of a headstart.

Joe Miller is a player that all EPL coaches would jump at. Whereas we don’t know what Rand’s exact role will be, we can be pretty certain as to how Sheppard will use Miller because it works really well. Who Miller plays alongside remains a mystery for now although given Rand’s return many would expect to see them play together on occasion. If Greg Chambers could be persuaded to return we could also see Miller link up with Chubbs once again. Who would centre that line would be the key question as whilst they wouldn’t need to have all of Owen’s attributes they would need to match his skills in puck distribution.

If Miller remains injury free he is capable of 30 goals and 60-70 points across the year and that is a great weapon to have in Coach Sheppard’s arsenal. Welcome back Joe, Cymru am Byth and all that.

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