EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State hockey captain Drew Miller has signed a professional contract with Anaheim of the NHL. Miller, who was drafted by the Mighty Ducks in the sixth round (186th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, will forego his senior season of eligibility and leaves after three seasons at Michigan State. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Miller, who received USCHO’s 2006 All-USCHO Unsung Hero award, will report to the Ducks’ AHL affiliate Portland Pirates on Wednesday and will be eligible to play for the team immediately. He will join the Pirates in Hartford, Conn., where the Pirates currently lead their Atlantic Division Finals series against the Wolfpack, 1-0.
“I have had a unbelievable experience at Michigan State,” said Miller, who is the tenth member of his family to play hockey for MSU. Drew’s older brother Ryan left Michigan State early to sign with the Buffalo Sabres.
“It was always a dream of mine to play hockey for the Spartans — but also a dream to play in the NHL,” Miller added. “I’m leaving behind a great program, but also have a great opportunity in front of me which I am excited about. I am really looking forward to my future with the Anaheim organization.”
“I’m very happy for Drew,” said Michigan State head coach Rick Comley. “He has shown tremendous improvement during his three years, and he epitomizes what we as coaches want in a student-athlete. There is no doubt that we will miss him tremendously. I’m confident that Drew will also continue to work toward his degree requirements and will graduate from Michigan State.”
In his time at MSU, Miller accumulated 39 goals and 47 assists for 86 points. He captained the team in 2005-06, and helped lead the Spartans to the program’s best record in four seasons (25-12-8). He was the squad’s leading scorer with 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points in 44 games, and was named Michigan State’s Most Valuable Player. He was honored as the CCHA’s Best Defensive Forward, and was named to the CCHA All-Tournament Team. This season, Michigan State also captured the 2006 CCHA Tournament title with a 2-1 victory over regular-season champion Miami, and advanced to the East Regional final in the NCAA Tournament.
In his addition to his excellence on the ice, Miller also left his mark on the community. Miller created the Spartan Buddy Program, where MSU athletes go to Sparrow Hospital on a regular basis to visit pediatric patients. He also participated in pen pal programs with local classrooms, Teams for Toys, DARE, and the Special Olympics. The commitment to community involvement earned Miller the CCHA’s 2006 Illitch Humanitarian Award this past season and nominations for the Hockey Humanitarian Award in the past two years.