36-Year-Old Goalie – Vancouver Canucks
Ryan Miller Contract Information:
Signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Canucks in July of 2014.
Miller made 38 saves in a 3-2 shootout win over Toronto on Saturday night.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
The Canucks signed Miller up last offseason, and he largely delivered the goods when healthy, delivering 29 wins in just 45 starts. The bad news is that he struggled with a knee injury, thus ceding plenty of starts to now-former backup Eddie Lack, who's since moved on to Carolina. But with a new backup (youngster Jacob Markstrom) who isn't likely to push him for playing time, plus the addition of defensively oriented centerman Brandon Sutter, Miller's in good position to build on last year's somewhat disappointing ratios if he can stay on the ice. He's a good bet to rack up plenty of wins as the Canucks contend for a playoff spot once more.
After the Blues chose not to keep Miller around following a disappointing first-round playoff exit, the 34-year-old veteran goalie signed a three-year deal with the Canucks in the summer. Miller posted a 25-30-4 record split between the Sabres and Blues last season, recording a .913 save percentage and a 2.60 GAA. He is an elite goalie who will get a big opportunity to turn the tides in Vancouver following a disappointing season that saw the Canucks miss the playoffs for the first time in six years. With the departure of Ryan Kesler and the additions of Miller, Radim Vrbata and Nick Bonino, the Canucks will have a different makeup this season, which could allow the team to improve. It's now Miller time in Vancouver, but youngster Eddie Lack is sure to be knocking on the door all season. Expect Miller to play around 60 games, with the potential of returning to elite status behind a solid group of Canucks defensemen.
Miller is entering the last year of his contract and has been the subject of trade rumors with the Sabres seemingly focused on a rebuild. Although he struggled at times last season, Buffalo’s defense was porous, pummeling Miller with a league-high 1270 shots against. Going forward, it’s probably safe to consider his Vezina-winning 2009-10 numbers a thing of the past, so his save percentage should hold steady at around .915 as it has done for the past three seasons. With backup Jhonas Enroth showing improvement, Miller could surrender some starts, but remains a reliable workhorse in terms of peripheral stats. Just don’t expect him to be among the league leaders in wins given his current club’s bleak outlook.
Miller posted a stellar 19-6-5 record, with five shutouts, after the All-Star break last season, re-establishing himself as an elite netminder following a disastrous first half. Seven consecutive 30-win campaigns suggest Miller is one of the league's top workhorses, but he and the Sabres could benefit from a stronger backup to ease some of the pressure on the Michigan native. Look for Miller to eclipse the 35-win mark in 2013, as he and the Sabres can't afford to come out of the gate slowly again. Miller's pricetag won't be as high as it was heading into last season, but don't wait too long on Miller after the elite netminders have been snagged.
Miller was a workhorse last year because of Buffalo's lack of a backup goaltender. At times Miller showed obvious signs of wear and tear and that needs to change in 2011-12 if he is to remain an elite goaltender in the NHL. All indications this summer are that Miller will get much more rest than he did last season, with Jhonas Enroth likely to start 20 to 25 games for the Sabres. The Sabres have loaded him up with some talent in front of him, so Miller should probably be one of the first handful of goalies off the board on draft night.
What more can be said about Miller than has already been said? He was the most valuable player for the United States in an epic run at the 2010 Winter Olympics, but most importantly for fantasy owners and Sabres fans, he was a legitimate candidate for the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL. Without Miller, the Sabres struggle to get into the playoffs, and with him, they win the division. Statistically, Miller had the most wins (41) and posted the highest save percentage (.929) and goals-against average (2.22) of his NHL career. A regression could be expected as Miller will be 30 years old this season, but even a slight regression won't move Miller from being the top option at goaltender in almost all fantasy formats.
In 2008-09, Miller had one of his best career seasons with a .918 save percentage, 2.53 goals against average, and 5 shutouts. While Miller may be at the top of career, his team is far from it. Once again Miller will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders carrying a rather young and inexperienced defensive line. This is a big risk fantasy owners must consider if interested in this top tier goalie.
Buffalo firmly announced its faith in Miller during the offseason with a five-year, $31.25 million contract extension. Miller, who is now among the NHL’s highest-paid goalies, appeared in 76 games last year and looked worn out down the stretch, as evidenced by his 3.30 GAA in March and April. In all fairness, Miller didn’t receive a lot of help from his offense; he improved his year-to-year GAA by .09 yet lost 15 games more than he did in 2006-07. Miller is teetering on the edge of the NHL's top 10 goalies list; the big contract could provide the security and motivation for him to leap firmly into the top tier. The Sabres plan to cut his workload by about 10 games this year; they hope that a lower quantity of games will enable a higher quality.
Miller is a strong candidate to post better individual numbers this season, although his wins should decrease. There’s no question that he is Buffalo’s No. 1 netminder and the Sabres should still be a playoff team. Miller stepped up during the 2006-07 postseason, posting a 2.22 GAA and .922 save percentage in 16 games. His regular season numbers (2.73 GAA, .911 SV%) were a lot more ordinary. The Sabres’ defensive unit is getting older and can be inconsistent, however, Miller can cover up mistakes, usually making two or three highlight-reel saves per game. The 2007-08 Sabres should play things tighter to the vest, which will cut down on the turnovers and odd-man rushes that hindered Miller last year. He just turned 27 and should be entering his prime.
Miller finally went from “hopeful” to “fantasy impact” in 2005-06, wresting the starting job away from Martin Biron and Mika Noronen. That won’t be changing any time soon, as Miller led the Sabres on a long playoff charge and management would like nothing better than to unload Biron’s salary and let Miller be a pure #1 for the whole season. Miller’s numbers were excellent last season, with a 30-14-3 record, 2.60 GAA and .914 save percentage – and keep in mind he missed seven weeks with a broken thumb. The percentage numbers should hold and we’d expect the wins and shutouts (1) totals to go up with a full season. There aren’t many strong goalie/elite team combos around the NHL, but you should be able to find one in Buffalo this season.
Miller is one of the more highly touted young goaltending prospects in the league. However, after showing sparks of brilliance when thrown into the NHL fire as a rookie in 2002-03 (six wins and a shutout), along with some down times (eight losses), he took a big step back in 2003-04 with an 0-3-0 record and a 5.06 GAA. Miller is better than that, and his strong play with Rochester of the AHL while many others were off for the lockout last season will earn him another look when training camp starts up. Miller will be in the mix with Mika Noronen and Martin Biron (a trade candidate) for the #1 or #2 jobs. Miller is a very good snag in keeper leagues, just to see if he can start to develop at the NHL level, and of all the non clear-cut starters, he's got one of the better upsides.
Miller is one of the more highly touted young goaltending prospects in the league. However, after showing sparks of brilliance when thrown into the NHL fire as a rookie in 2002-03 (six wins and a shutout), along with some down times (eight losses), he took a big step back in 2003-04 with an 0-3-0 record and a 5.06 GAA. Miller is better than that, and his strong play with Rochester of the AHL down the stretch will earn him another look in when the next training camp resumes. Perhaps Miller can beat out Mika Noronen at some point and earn the No. 2 job behind Martin Biron. Miller is still a good snag in keeper leagues, just to see if he can start to develop.