"It could be," GM Jim Benning said. "He could be the guy.
"We want to make the playoffs next year. Our goal is to make the playoffs every year and develop young players in a winning environment.
"That’s what we’re trying to accomplish."
It is now very clear that Canucks management is not comfortable with going into the 2014-15 season with an Eddie Lack - Jacob Markstrom duo in goal. Personally, I was all for it by season's end, even though both looked sub-par out there. If it failed, then the GM could address the matter during the season. Maybe a summer of training and prep work would change that, I thought. Well what do I know? I do know that I can trust Jim Benning's judgement over my own, naturally. He and Trevor Linden have talked to the players and assessed what the heck is going on and what is needed.
Benning told the Province yesterday:
"To be a top contending team in this League you need top goaltending. You can never have enough."
So, another world class goalie is needed. Cool! Not some cheaper, mid-range experienced goalie with a smaller price tag? Alright! I mean, hey, Benning once traded Andrew Raycroft to the Leafs for Tuuka Rask, so gee, how much of a goaltending evaluator is he?
The Canucks have $17.75 million cap space to sign Chris Tanev, Zack Kassian and Linden Vey. That won't chew too much into the grand total. Yes, the Canucks still need a lot of help up front. But what kind of help? Does Benning really need to spend all that dough on forwards? Where would the rookies fit in then? I think, with JB pursuing Miller, that his plan is clear. If he lands Miller on July 1, he is aiming to either sign a $4-6 million forward, or split that between two forwards and fill the rest of the voids with kids. Good plan.
The ties between Miller and Benning are tight. Jim was a scout for the Buffalo Sabres in 1999 when they took him in the 5th round in the 1999 Draft. Benning was scouting Miller all along when he played for the Soo Indians of the NAHL. Maybe Benning's best pick ever.
I'm telling you, and forgive my vulgarity, you cannot judge a goaltender by his f***ing goals against average and save percentage stats. Sure, you can somewhat, but goalie stats are team stats mostly, I don't care what the math geeks say. Yet, most of the social media and Twidiots out there, as a majority, don't want Miller here. FOOLS! If you are looking at Miller's GAA and save % stats, and all the other pathetic advanced stats and drawing a conclusion that Ryan Miller is an overrated goaltender, you are no better then PJ Stock. You are no better than the Satellite Hotstove panel and any other lazy MSM or TV hockey personality for that matter. I should beat you over the skull with a goalie stick. Ever play in goal? Ever? If your team is sub-standard defensively, you are going to face some pretty insane shots / scoring chances (see: Luongo 2011 Finals). A breakaway? A 2 or 3 -on-1? Where are the f***ing advanced stats for that?? They don't exist so don't put much stock in what the pencil necks are feeding you.
Ryan Miller played on a Buffalo team that refused to spend money. Especially down the stretch. The Sabres sucked defensively and even offensively. But Mr. Miller was the biggest reason for any time the Sabres remained "respectable," in whatever sense of the word. It's no wonder why he wanted out of there.
Miller has the most wins in Sabres' history, by the way. 284 wins in 540 games. Dominik Hasek had 234 wins in 491 games. Even those stats are TEAM-ORIENTED. But hey, Miller is a swell goaltender. I am going to stop here, because who knows if Miller even signs here or not, and quote some Sabres fans at Die By The Blade after Miller was traded to St. Louis:
Miller has been the poster child for this organization for years, and with good reason. Especially after a couple rough years the one consolation prize of rooting for a struggling Buffalo team was we had one of, if not the, best goalie in the league. As hard as it is to believe, I’m convinced this season would have been even uglier without him as time and time again he bailed his team out. Even when the team wasn't beyond horrible it was easy to point to Miller as the reason they were in a game, playoff series, or towards the top of the standings.
As far as memories go I’m sure there will be a slew of amazing saves in this article but I’m taking a different direction. After his 2010 Olympic loss, there is a picture of Miller with Canadian gloves scattered all around him and team Canada celebrating in the background. He was crushed, the country was crushed. Even in that moment of disappointment I realized just how amazing that run was for Miller and the underdog US team. He managed to bring national pride to Western NY and the Sabres. For those 3 weeks and beyond, even with a heartbreaking loss, we were all proud to call him "our goalie"... before the rest of the country did.
Ryan Miller won't just be remembered for his play off the ice, but for the mark he left on the team and the community. You know a player meant something when my mom is sad to see him go. It will be hard to see Miller and not think, "That's my goalie."
Ever since Miller came to prominence after the lockout and as part of that deadly goaltending trident alongside Marty Biron and MIka Noronen, he has become a fan favorite. Whether it's his calm demeanor or just the business-like manner he went about his hockey, there was something there for everyone to like. And in all these years, we have seen him to be a human being just like any one of us, who makes mistakes and shows his emotions. We celebrated with him when he collected personal accolades, were thrilled by him as he made remarkable saves and we mourned with him when twice we lost in Conference Finals. We admired his focus as we saw how he prepared for games and cheered on wildly as he carried the US hockey team on his back like he has carried the Sabres so often. For all this, and for his charity ventures in Buffalo, we thank Miller.
There’s nothing I can say about his career as a Sabre that hasn’t been said by more eloquent people than I. He grew up in Buffalo’s system, evolved into an elite goaltender, and played amazing in front of a sometimes crap team. I think he’s a better goalie than his stats even say, because he gained the stats in front of said crappy team, but that might just be fan bias.
IN CONCLUSION IN POINT FORM
-Miller is an unrestricted free agent coming off a 5-year deal that paid him $6,250,000 per season.
-Jim Benning has to sell to the 33 year-old that the Canucks can win the Stanley Cup soon.
-You love a Lack/Miller combo in net. Yes you do. Shh! Shhh! Shhh! Yes you do. Shut up.
-If Lack turns into the #1 guy over Miller because he IS a stud, then trade Miller down the road. Peeps, we are not in the Mike Gillis era anymore. Jim Benning can move guys with no-trade clauses, unlike Gillis.
-How about some Miller Time on the Tube: