Gladiators sign Alpharetta native

DULUTH -- The Gwinnett Gladiators traded for a player who spent many of his formative years in the Atlanta area.

More importantly, they traded for a player who has developed his game at a number of prestigious programs since he left.

Defenseman Brad Miller was acquired by the Gladiators in a deal that sent winger Dustin Cameron to Trenton on Tuesday.

"Dustin is a strong young forward and he was a piece I didn't want to give up," Gwinnett head coach John Wroblewski said. "But I am willing to pay that price to get Brad.

"First and foremost, he has an energy about him out on the ice. He uses that energy in combination with an excellent hockey mind. He really sees the play developing before it happens. He also has excellent quickness and speed."

Miller was born in Ottawa, Ontario, but moved to Alpharetta when he was 8.

The Cooler was under construction at the time, but Miller started playing there with the Atlanta Fire as soon as it was finished.

He left a decade ago as a 15-year-old to attend Shattuck-St. Mary's, a boarding school in Minnesota with a tremendous hockey tradition.

Miller won the midget national championship there in 2004 and then went on to play four years for another premier program, North Dakota, before turning pro in 2009.

After a rookie season limited to 16 games by knee injuries, Miller signed with Elmira in 2010. The 25-year-old was there until December, but only saw ice time in six games. He was traded to Trenton and ended up with 20 points in 37 games for the Devils.

"Everything went well there," Miller said. "I finally got to put up some points, But it'll be nice to actually get started. It's been a long summer."

Trenton, like the Gladiators, missed the playoffs.

In his season-ending talk with Trenton, Miller was asked what his plans were for the 2011-12 season.

"I told them I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do," Miller said. "If I wanted to keep playing or do something else. But if I did play, I wanted to try to play in Gwinnett. So Trenton protected me.

"Vince Williams was really understanding. He's been there and done that. He knows how cool it is to play at home, especially if you're not going to play that much longer. He said, 'If they agree to it, I'll do everything I can to help you.'"

Williams, promoted from assistant to head coach about the same time Wroblewski was hired to take over for longtime Gladiators' coach Jeff Pyle, got in touch.

Wroblewski had a chance to see Miller play many times as the assistant in Wheeling last season and jumped at the chance to bring him to Gwinnett.

"He was a guy we targeted last year when I was Wheeling," Wroblewski said.

But Elmira was not willing to send Miller to a team it was competing against for playoff position.

"I admired his game a few different times," Wroblewski said. "I was very impressed his presence.

"He comes from excellent program at North Dakota. It was one thing that initially drew my attention. They produce high-end players. Then you see his passion and his professionalism. He was a player I knew I wanted to get and the fact that he's a local kid makes it a home run."

Miller, who earned a degree in business during his four-year college career, is looking forward to the chance to play near home again.

"I think it'll be a lot of fun," said Miller, who is living in Alpharetta now. "I only played here twice with Trenton, but I had lots of friends and family come to watch. The rink is really nice and I love the surrounding area. And obviously the warm weather -- I haven't had that in the 10 years since I've been gone."