Hockey Odds – Ryan Miller Signs with Vancouver

Updated: July 8, 2014
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Free agent Goalie Ryan Miller signs three-year deal with Vancouver Canucks

By Ian Palmer

There was a flurry of activity on July 1, the first day of NHL free agency, with more than 50 players changing teams at a cost of over $500 million. Vancouver general manager Jim Benning is familiar with Miller’s body of work since he was a scout with the Buffalo Sabres they chose the goalie with the 138th selection in the 1999 NHL Entry draft.

The two are now reunited after Miller signed on the dotted line for $18 million. The Canucks appeared to be set in goal for several season just over a year ago when Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo shared the netminding duties. However, they were both traded and Vancouver had unproven Swedish natives Jacob Markstrom and Eddie Lack guarding the crease after their departure. Benning said goaltending is hockey’s most important position and Miller will provide his players with confidence as they know they can rely on him.

The 34-year-old goalie who hails from Michigan spent his first dozen years in the league with the Sabres. He was then moved St. Louis about a week before last season’s trade deadline. However, he struggled during the postseason with the Blues. Miller was named the top goaltender in the NHL for the 2009/10 season and helped the U.S. win a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He was also named the MVP of the tournament. Miller’s save percentage was 92.9 save in 2009/10, but the four seasons since then it’s slipped to 91.6.

One of the reasons for the decline was undoubtedly the fact he was playing behind a weak defense with the Sabres. Miller played well at the start of last season though with a 92.3 save percentage and was named to the American Olympic team for the Games in Sochi, Russia. After being traded to St. Louis Miller’s save percentage fell to 90.3 in 19 regular season games and to 89.7 in six postseason contests as the Blues were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in six games during the first round. Miller was paid $6.25 million a year in his last deal which was for five seasons.

The 26-year-old Lack played 20 games for the Canucks last season, starting 16 of them and winning seven while posting a save percentage of 91.2. It’s believed he’ll back Miller up this season and continue to work with Canucks goaltending coach Roland Melanson. Lack said he’s looking forward to playing with Miller and is sure he’ll learn plenty from the veteran. The 24-year-old Markstrom could be sent to the American Hockey League (AHL) if the Canucks decide to keep him in the organization, but he’ll have to clear waivers. He was chosen by the Florida Panthers with the 31st pick in the 2008 draft and made his way to Vancouver when in the Luongo trade.