It took just over an hour into the free agent frenzy for the Canucks to finally dip their toes into the water, and join the others in spending money on deals that’ll for the most part range between ‘looking regrettable immediately’ and ‘inevitably becoming financial burdens down the road’.
With some intriguing names – such as Mike Cammalleri, Ales Hemsky, Jussi Jokinen, Benoit Pouliot, Christian Ehrhoff, and Tom Gilbert – that could’ve legitimately helped out a roster that needs ample fixing all flying off of the board, the Canucks instead chose to focus their efforts on handing out a handsome amount of money to a goalie.
Ryan Miller is a Canuck. It could’ve been worse, I guess, but..
We spent an infinite amount of words discussing the potential of a union between Ryan Miller and the Canucks yesterday in previewing the spending frenzy, and you can find that here. The connection between Jim Benning and Ryan Miller makes sense, and the uneasy feeling that going into the season with a pairing that has 78 combined NHL starts under their belt is a totally reasonable one, but this particular signing reeks of missing the plot.
Ryan Miller is a fine goalie. He’s one of the few players at the position that has managed to perform in a consistent manner from year to year. There’s certainly value in that, and considering the question marks that the Lack and Markstrom duo present, Miller’s established play is accentuated even further. The problem, though, is that I think some people are having a difficult time shaking the memory of what Ryan Miller was back in that otherworldly ’09-’10 when he was playing out of his skull. It’s interesting what has happened since then:
What Miller really is, is a slightly above average league goaltender at this point. One that’s turning 34 in a few weeks, and could conceivably be headed towards the downslope of his career at any point now. That’s a concerning thought, because he doesn’t exactly have a lot of wiggle room to decline and still maintain the value he used to present.
Miller’s $6 million hit isn’t a great one, since it makes him the 6th highest paid player at the position. Considering how suppressed the list of teams that were looking for a number one goaltender was, it’s hard to believe that Miller was receiving better offers than that from anyone else. Especially since Jonas Hiller received a far more team friendly deal from the Calgary Flames just a few minutes later. But whether it was Benning, or Linden, or the ownership group, someone clearly felt the need to bring in a big name that they could sell to the casual fanbase heading into next season. Miller probably does that, until he has his first little bad stretch as a Canuck, and just how sensitive he really is gets put to the test.
If there’s one saving grace to come from this deal, it’s that it only runs for 3 years. In that regard it could’ve been a lot worse. But still, poor Eddie Lack will be turning 30 before Ryan Miller comes off of the books. This’ll be sold as a move that’ll have added value in that it helps “groom” Lack, which seems silly when you realize just how old Lack already is. With this transaction, and the reported interest in someone like Jarome Iginla, it’s fair to wonder whether the guys pulling the strings are properly gauging how their team stacks up in the Western Conference’s hierarchy.
The Canucks now have 11+ million dollars left to spend against the cap, and they’ll need to, because who the heck is going to score a goal in front of Ryan Miller next season?