Pay that man his money! K’Andre Miller’s performance on his entry-level contract, in particular the final year of that deal, has put him in a position for a big payday.
Miller is certainly one of the top young defensemen in the game. At 23 years old, Miller recorded 38 of his 43 points in 2022-23 at even 5-on-5. That was the 12th most among defensemen in the NHL this past season.
His current status as a restricted free agent entering his second contract in the NHL makes him ineligible for arbitration rights. Essentially, he is largely at the mercy of the club in the negotiation process.
Naturally, Miller has earned a sizable raise for his next contract, but being that the New York Rangers’ cap situation remains tight, the back and forth that will likely take place between General Manager Chris Drury and Miller will be ongoing.
Which begs the question, what could a potential deal for the stud blueliner look like?
When looking at previous defensemen in Miller’s situation, one name that comes to mind is a former Rangers D-man in Brady Skjei.
Skjei signed a six-year contract worth an average annual value (AAV) of $5.25 million back in July 2018.
If that sounds like a long time ago, that’s because it is.
Skjei notched 25 points in 78 games during the 2017-18 campaign but had an impressive rookie season the year prior (39 points in 80 games in the ‘16-17 season).
One tidbit of information that could work in the team’s favor when hashing out the deal with Miller was that the Skjei contract was signed in a non-flat cap world.
The summer of 2018 saw the salary cap jump $4.5 million (from $75 million to $79.5 million), a monumental six percent increase.
But this is a cap-strapped team in a flat-cap league. There will be no significant increase in available cap space (other than the $1 million boost that was agreed upon in the Collective Bargaining Agreement putting the cap at $83.5 million for the 2023-24 season).
That severely hinders Miller’s chance of asking for the sun and the moon.
Another potential comparable contract is that of Zach Werenski. No, not the current jackpot he receives at just over $9.5 million AAV, we are talking about Werenski’s second deal.
In September of 2019, Werenski agreed to a 3-year deal worth $5 million AAV with Columbus after coming off a season in which he recorded 44 points in 82 games in 2018-19.
Sound familiar? Ideally, Rangers brass would like to ink Miller to a longer-term deal, but the idea of getting him around the $5 million AAV range will likely be the game plan.
Another deal, similar to the Werenski and Skjei second contracts, would be that of Charlie McAvoy.
He signed a three-year, $4.9 million AAV contract in September of 2019, much like Werenski.
Though McAvoy’s numbers were not as impressive, recording 28 points in 54 games in 2018-19.
There is also the possibility that Miller pushes for a shorter-term deal, opting for the two to three-year range, likely making a few bucks less.
Should he bet on himself and continue to improve, he could potentially ask for a deal similar to what Zach Werenski received on his third contract.
Ultimately, he will likely not receive any trade protection in the deal should it be four years or less. Players must be at least 27 years old or have played 7 seasons in the NHL to qualify for no-trade protection.
Miller will be 27 by the team either of those clauses were to activate.
Final prediction on what the potential contract will look like – K’Andre Miller will sign for 5 years with an AAV of $5.75 million
Miller would be 28 when the contract expires, buying one year of free agency in the deal. It will also leave enough gas in the tank for him to sign a more lucrative deal in a non-flat-cap NHL.