Vancouver Canucks: Evaluating Ryan Miller


With Eddie Lack in Carolina, Ryan Miller is the Vancouver Canucks’ unchallenged No. 1 goaltender. But is he the right solution?

Job security is something Vancouver Canucks goaltenders are rather unfamiliar with. Since the summer of 2013, the Canucks have traded Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack, who had all been the club’s No. 1 goalie at some point during their time in Vancouver. Those controversies were meant to be over with the signing of Ryan Miller in 2014 in combination with the Lack trade in 2015. Unfortunately, that did not quite work out.

Miller has the experience of 631 regular season and 56 playoff games. He was part of Team USA for two Olympic tournaments, winning a silver medal in 2010. He was the Eastern Conference All-Star Team’s starter in 2007 and part of the NHL First All-Star Team in 2010, which is also the year in which he won the Vezina Trophy. He was a standout at Michigan University, he was a standout for the AHL’s Rochester Americans, and he was a standout for the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. So, where do all the critics come from?

Well, Miller has not exactly been a standout for the Vancouver Canucks. Looking at situations like the Detroit Red Wings’ tying goal on Friday night, there is no all-star goalie to be seen.

With his 6-foot-2 frame, Miller should easily be able to cover the top corner on a sharp-angle shot like that of Henrik Zetterberg. Sure, the shot was absolutely perfect, but even then, it should have no chance of going in.

Unfortunately, that was not the only instance when Miller could be held responsible for a goal against. The Canucks’ 97 goals against currently rank 25th in the league. The team’s defence is sub par, but Miller’s .909 save percentage, which has him ranked 32nd among goalies with 10 games or more games played, certainly does not help. On that note, the league average is currently at .917.

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All that said, Miller has also carried the team to wins single-handedly, but consistency is the missing piece. For a 35-year-old goalie, that is totally natural. Martin Brodeur, for example, had save percentages of .908 or lower in his last five NHL seasons. It just hurts when Miller is signed to a three-year contract with a cap hit of $6 million.

At this point, it almost looks like Miller is nothing more than a backup goalie anymore. The problem is that Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo are doing really well with their respective clubs while Vancouver’s goaltenders continue to struggle. Backup Jacob Markstrom has a record of 1-3-2 and a save percentage of .911, and much left to prove before he can be given more starts.

Eddie Lack — who is struggling mightily in Carolina but had a great last season in Vancouver — is dearly missed.

So, what does that mean for the Canucks? In the long term, it really does not matter. Miller’s contract is set to expire in 2017, and as of today, it looks like the Canucks will be in the midst of a long rebuild in that time. Two years down the road, it would not be surprising to see Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko in net.

Related: Thatcher Demko Is too Good to Be Real

In the short term, however, it hurts. The Canucks are still in playoff contention and there is no reason to start a rebuild as long is that is still the case. A strong goaltender is one of the most important things on the road to the playoffs, and especially during the postseason. Miller was never a strong playoff goalie, and it looks like he will even struggle on the way there.

A lot has gone wrong for the Canucks in recent years, and the goaltending situation is a prime example. At least two reliable starters are gone, and Ryan Miller is struggling to fill their shoes. It is time for Demko to get here.

Next: The Canuck Case for Tyson Barrie

To end this on a positive note, let’s take a look at some great Miller moments!

*All stats via