We're still learning how to read Jim Benning's mind along with the rest of the hockey world, but all the chatter since before the draft suggested he wasn't convinced Eddie Lack is ready to be the 70+ game workhorse starter that he'd like.
Enter one Ryan Miller - the former US Olymipc starter who wanted out of Buffalo last winter for a Cup-contending team only to have the stacked St. Louis Blues take the gamble on him and were promptly rewarded with a 2-4 post season record / 2.70 GAA / .897 S% en route to a first round elimination - who will now enter the Vancouver fishbowl and try to succeed where guys like Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider have failed. Of course those other two guys had decent teams in front of them whereas Miller gets...oh nevermind.
The deal is for a reported 3 years & 6 million per, giving Vancouver a bit over $10 million to lock up their RFAs and address the offensive holes up front. Fun fact: as noted by several on Twitter, this means Vancouver will be paying $9.2 million in salaries for goalies (not all who are here, wink wink) next season.
Miller is, of course, a good netminder. While at 34 years old, his .918 S% last year keeps him in the same company as guys like Luongo, Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist. He's four years removed from his Vezina-winning 2010 campaign in which he netted the Sabres 41 wins along with a .929 S% and a 2.22 GAA. He maintains strong, respectable numbers by way of his career save percentage and goals against. As noted in the past week or so, Miller is a bridge to Lack's development so however Desjardins plans to platoon his new weapon alongside Lack (#Milllack!), it certainly gives the franchise a similar - though weaker - goaltending tandem that they enjoyed during their successful AV years.
Along with his age will come the criticism that he effectively imploded when gifted the chance to backstop a deep team in St. Louis. He's an expensive option with only Jonas Hiller the other free agent open GMJB could have taken a run at. Lastly there's the economics of the deal: does a retooling team flirting with a full rebuild really need an expensive netminder?
We'll have plenty of time to debate that over the course of next season. For now, Benning has shored up an admitted weak spot on the roster and can now turn his full attention to the holes in the top six. Personally I'm not thrilled with the cap space used to snag Miller, but Benning has a long time to convert me. I'm all ears.