Canucks add Ryan Miller, who sort of looks like Roberto Luongo, so there’s that

Shortly after arriving in Vancouver, Jim Benning and Trevor Linden took stock, and decided they had 99 problems, but a trustworthy starting goaltender wasn’t one. It’s a defensible conclusion: Eddie Lack probably has what it takes, but as the wheels fell off the Canucks’ bus last season and he was dropped into a situation where there was no one behind him and, really, no one in front of him either, he didn’t look good. Hence, Benning and Linden decided to target a goaltender at the draft, and again in free agency.

In both instances, they got the biggest name available. At the draft, it was Boston College alumnus Thatcher Demko. In free agency, it was former St. Louis Blue nee Buffalo Sabre Ryan Miller.

The Canucks have signed the netminder for 3 years at $18 million dollars. It’s important to note that he vaguely resembles Roberto Luongo, so this should be an easy transition.

You might remember Ryan Miller from such incredible performances as the 2010 Olympics, when he backstopped Team USA to a silver medal, and very nearly a gold one. He was the standout goalie of that tournament, and at that time, was briefly believed by some to be the best goalie in the world.

But that was four years ago. Since then, his numbers have notably fallen off. There are two ways to explain this: the first is that Miller isn’t particularly good anymore, at the age of 33. The second is that Miller was playing in the wretched confines of Buffalo, a team that’s tanking so hard you’d think they were playing Battle City. As Eddie Lack demonstrated last season, it’s tough to stop shots when your team is woefully ill-equipped to keep good ones to a minimum.

Granted, Miller didn’t look much better in St. Louis, but he wasn’t there that long, the Blues didn’t play all that well down the stretch, and then they ran into the very good Chicago Blackhawks in round one of the playoffs. So it’s tough to read too much into his brief stint in Missouri.

Either way, I don’t expect Miller to be a game-changer for the Canucks. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to be. Forget the money for a second. At $6 million a season, Miller is making much too much. That goes without saying. But the Canucks have the capspace to stomach it without hurting their ability to build for once, and 3 years isn’t too bad. It’s hardly twelve.

More importantly, Miller/Lack is a better tandem than Lack/Markstrom, so the Canucks have improved. It’s that simple. Ideally, this doesn’t relegate Lack to proper backup mode, either. I’d far rather the Canucks platooned the two guys, and let them work off each other. Hopefully both are amenable to such a setup.

30 comments

  1. T-Canuck
    July 1, 2014

    I really think that this is not good, I sure hope I am wrong but it looks like Jimbo is living in the past. Miller is a hasn’t been. This will put us in no mans land probably in the middle of the pack. Eddie with some defence upgrade could have easily done the job. Now we will be right back to a goalie controversy in Vancouver. Not to mention when Eddie does prove he is better look at the difference in the money between the two. Jimbo I think you may have really set yourself up for some serious regrets.
    Should have gone long term deal with Niskanen.
    Going younger is where the team needs to go. Miller has never done anything, and we don’t have an olympic team in front of him…..just in case you were gonna say 2010.
    I hope Miller can handle the heat…. welcome to Vancouver…..I mean the Goaltender Graveyard.

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  2. Rob Robertson
    July 1, 2014

    Hate this signing. I feel Miller is marginally better than Lack and is in his twilight. Lack has way more upside and he’s earned a shot at being the #1 guy.

    Would have preferred them signing a Chad Johnson type to play 30 odd games.

    Thumbs down to Benning and Linden on this one.

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  3. James
    July 1, 2014

    Love the Battle City reference, classic.

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  4. kavi36
    July 1, 2014

    I would have been alright with this signing if they had spent less on him… Miller is a definite upgrade on Markstrom, but not at $6M per. And if they’re spending that much on him, he’s not going to be a backup; I have a hard time seeing him split starts with Lack for that money either. :(

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  5. Stink Pickle
    July 1, 2014

    It is too much money, but you’re right when saying that the money and term don’t hurt the rebuild effort. What I don’t like is the message being sent to Lack. You don’t spend 6 million on a platoon goalie.

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    • Amor de Cosmos
      July 1, 2014

      But Lack should have no expectation yet of being number one. He only became that last season because of Luongo’s sudden departure. He’s not experienced enough to carry the load yet, and trying to force it could wreck his development irrevocably.

      This seems like a good move — a lot of money but the right thing to do.

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      Rating: +9 (from 11 votes)
  6. Jambon
    July 1, 2014

    The main benefit in having Miller here is to have him split time with Lack, to give maximum confidence to our younger forwards that the goal is fairly solid while they learn the ropes and take another step.

    Then if we are not in the playoffs, trade Miller at the deadline to a team without a goalie but with a shot at the big time and grab a few more high draft picks.

    That is if Miller doesn’t have a no-trade clause… Here’s hoping.

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    • Dan
      July 1, 2014

      According to Elliotte Friedman he does have a no-trade clause, so so much for that.

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      • asdfsson
        July 1, 2014

        He’s got a limited NTC – 5 team list. Better than Kesler, so manageable.

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  7. Bergberg
    July 1, 2014

    Seems like this wont be the popular opinion, but I love this move. 3 years is the perfect term to give Lack the time to come into his own as a bonafide NHL starter. I’d much rather they spend their money shoring up the goaltender situation for the short term then spend a bunch of money on overpriced older players that are going to take spots away from some of the younger players we need to get in the lineup. I realize we may not be the best team in the league next year, but I really like the overall direction.

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    Rating: +18 (from 24 votes)
  8. JeremyOK
    July 1, 2014

    This is getting terrifying. Dumping Kesler, Garrison and Booth (who you may have issues with, but are actual NHL players) for little return looked like an admission that this was in fact going to be a rebuild. But another big-name-over-the-hill-big-dollar-free-agent goalie doesn’t make sense no matter where you are in the rebuild cycle — even if he was elite, this would be a crappy time to invest this heavily. And then drafting multiple coke machines when skilled players were available…no scorers added to the top six…this just can’t end well. Seems like we’re getting old-school management from the new managers.

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    • RG
      July 1, 2014

      We needed to clear roster space for the 4 1st rounders that will be in the show from 2014+.

      Kesler was on the decline, Garrison didn’t work out, and Booth is hardly an NHL player now (thanks to Mike Richards).

      Stop living in the past!

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  9. Neil B
    July 1, 2014

    My biggest worry is that we will see a Miller-Markstrom tandem, with Eddie being traded somewhere in the next few weeks.

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  10. Beata
    July 1, 2014

    Let’s just hope Miller is willing to help and mentor Lack and not worry about him taking his job. Though I do agree that the money is a bit much, hopefully the message when he signed was that he was on the decline and would mentor Lack until he’s ready to be a starter. It looks like a lot depends on Miller’s ego, and I don’t know enough about him to judge that yet.

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  11. GeezMoney
    July 1, 2014

    Step away from the cliff and stop taking everything NHL managers say to heart. The Canucks are in a rebuild. They have oodles of cap space, and want/need a marquee name to keep fans somewhat interested in the offseason. The cynic in me says this is an expensive PR move. The realist in me says they aren’t worse today. The bank manager in me says “stop pullimg out what if left of your hair.”

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  12. Smokey
    July 1, 2014

    Another solid move by Benning. There’s no way anyone could reasonably look at that roster and say goaltending wasn’t the biggest area of need. Having an experienced veteran like Miller is essential for a young team with two young goalies and a lot of young centers, you don’t want shaky play in the crease and you don’t want to wear anyone down, this really balances out the position.

    Markstrom/Erikson now becomes one of the best AHL tandems, get a lot of playing time down there, give the kids in the minors a chance to develop good habits.

    You ask me, Miller is probably too old to play more than 50 games, and Eddie is too good to play less than 20 but not good enough to play more than 40, and both goalies are somewhat injury-prone; this move puts all the goalies in exactly the proper range as far as their number of starts and the level of competition they are gonna be facing.

    I know we’re Canucks fans/media and complaining and finding fault is what we do here, but for me I can’t find anything to dislike about what Benning’s been doing. Kesler was a malcontent, he had to go, Benning got way more for him than anyone had any right to expect, way more than the Sens got for Spezza who is the better player of the two and was in a similar situation. Benning’s drafting was terrific. Picking up Dorsett and Vey, those are two really good moves. Coaching hire was a smart move, not a retread, a guy who has a lot of experience, but also something to prove.

    Strong support for the Linden/Benning administration in this corner, nothing to criticize. Would like to see Santorelli return if they decide to go with another FA forward.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      July 1, 2014

      This is a pretty reasonable take, actually. I don’t entirely agree, but that’s fine, nothing wrong with a difference of opinion.

      If Miller players ~50 games and Lack ~30, I could live with that, particularly if it’s the other way around next season if Lack proves he is up to it.

      My biggest area of disagreement with this would be about the draft, where I felt that it was really questionable after the first couple rounds. We’ll see.

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      • Naturalmystic
        July 1, 2014

        I doubt Benning intends for Miller to sit on the pine for 50 games making 6 million a season while holding a moded ntc. Miller is the default #1`for the next three seasons. Lack is on the way out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is sent away for a draft pick. Benning is beginning to remind me of another former GM who brought all his buddies to play when he became boss…Kevin Lowe.

        Be afraid.

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  13. TooManyThings
    July 1, 2014

    Wait, so is Miller Thing #3, or Thing #5?

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  14. gnar
    July 1, 2014

    Miller is in for some adjustments going from Jim Corsi to Rollie as a coach. Miller is a “finely tuned” player and it may be interesting to see how things play out here.

    Corsi is a great man and a fine goalie coach with roots in BC. He followed Miller to St. Louis.

    Stay tuned folks…

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  15. Doop
    July 1, 2014

    welp

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  16. Shlaw
    July 1, 2014

    I’m Ok with this signing, I’ve always been a fan of Ryan Miller.
    And I figure it could be worse. With all this talk of the “Boston Model” I was worried they were going to sign our friend Timmy Thomas.

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  17. Chunky's Choice
    July 1, 2014

    Step back in time a couple years and ask yourself if you would have taken this trade: Luongo and Schneider for Miller, Markstrom, Horvat and Matthias. Two #1 goalies for one #1 goalie, a minor league goalie, a strong prospect, and a 3rd line centre. Doesn’t seem too bad when you look at it that way.

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    • chrìs
      July 2, 2014

      no! a thousand times no. i would have bought out luongo or ate a larger part of his salary in order to trade him. luo should be wearing a maple. schnieder should be here. that mis management of assets is one of the biggest in nhl history.

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  18. Big Jim Backer
    July 1, 2014

    Granted Miller’s Millions are higher than I expected; but I consider his contract an investment in one hell of a succession plan. JB, in less than 1 week, has done more to address the franchise’s long term need for stable development in goal-tending than anything MG ever did in the past 3 years. There will be no need to unscramble the omelet. Nor will there be tears shed over a contract that sucks.

    JB’s plan is well thought out; and it will pay huge dividends for the Canucks in the decade to come. The salary cap will go up. With Miller, Lack will be given the time to fully prepare to assume the starter’s role in 3 years without his confidence completely ravaged by the blast of a train whistle as he passes by the goalie graveyard.

    Something else to consider is that Thatcher Demko, a product of USA development, also benefits from Miller’s signing.. Let that sink in. As a young, highly touted prospect, he now has the luxury of growth with the other recent draft picks when he enters the AHL,

    Dare to dream the Jennings Trophy returns to Vancouver

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  19. akidd
    July 2, 2014

    well, things certainly seem to have run amok here. benning can spend it pretty good. mg must be having fits. he was saving his pennies something fierce and then this alberta boy blows it like it’s saturday at a fort mac strip club.

    whacha gonna do? not unlike tortorella coming in and having no regard for prudent toi allocationing. and we all sat back and said ‘whut?’that’s not gonna work.’

    but there’s way too much time ahead to be outraged so just to stretch it out a bit let’s play along with the benning approach to team building. maybe going the oilers’ route and firmly instilling a losing mentality just isn’t the way to go. maybe we get more wins with miller. maybe we’ve become too invested in our guys. lack looked great early. most people don’t blame eddie for losing late when the whole team was collectively doing a death twitch. but we like him. maybe someone else not so invested might have seen as a bad sign eddie not being spectacular when given his shot at no. 1. they might not like the injury record either. it’s the most important position. why take a risk? especially when you have meeeellleeeons of dollars.

    forget the long-term strategies, the mcdavid sweepstakes etc. try as hard as you can to win starting…now. otherwise you’re team’s gonna suck forever like the leafs and oilers because sucking is all they know.it’s an identity. the canucks have had a pretty good little streak going of not sucking and then a quick blast of really sucking. maybe priority number one is not who’s going to centre the first line in 4 years but to get back on the ‘not suck’ train asap.

    just trying to be optimistic. we all know there’s a goalie controversy brewing. the truce has been broken.it’s back on. the Goalie wars. darn it!

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    • Bolderevolution
      July 2, 2014

      I’m with you, queuing up for the Not Sucking Express. We have all spent too many years on the Sucking Line. Great point, better analogy.

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  20. Sven
    July 2, 2014

    i dont get this move either. why not having inked hiller for a similar deal as calgary just did?
    excellent goalie, plus younger and then see where lack goes the next two years.
    at least they havent signed miller for lets say 12 years……

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  21. Amor de Cosmos
    July 2, 2014

    I don’t understand why people don’t understand. Miller is similar age and comparable quality to Luongo (OK, we can argue about that till the cows come home). If last season didn’t happen, then right now we’d have Luongo as #1 with Eddie as back-up on an increased number of games. There’s seven years age difference between Lack and Miller, which translates to an equivalent amount of experience. In three years Lack will be Ready Eddie at 26, and Miller will be gone. To the extent that you can plan these things, seems to me they’ve got the goal-tending succession pretty much nailed.

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  22. Chinook
    July 2, 2014

    After watching Ryan Miller meet the press, he looks to have the same low-emotion, laconic style as Carey Price. A more apt comparison than to Roberto Luongo?

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