Does Ryan Miller make the Canucks a better hockey team?

I’ve started a new job, and people have gradually begun to learn what I did with my old one, which is analyze and write about hockey. A few co-workers have asked why it is I’m not as keen on the Ryan Miller signing as others, and I think that the answer goes well beyond “don’t overpay for goalies, because they’re random”.

The right answer here is that even if Miller were to provide a significant upgrade over Eddie Lack in net, is it really something the Canucks need?

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I compiled this small, simple chart comparing the Canucks to the rest of the league in goals for and goals against last season in each of the three major playing situations: 5-on-5, 5-on-4, and 4-on-5. In each situation, the Canucks are above average in goals against, but below average in goals for:

Goals For +/- Average Goals Vs. Vs. Average
5 on 5 139 -7.6 142 4.6
5 on 4 35 -8 4 2.2
4 on 5 5 -1.2 36 7
Total 179 -16.8 182 13.8

Now, Lack played half the season and just 100 fewer minutes than Roberto Luongo, so obviously he had a lot of input in what happened last season. The theme here is that the Canucks were okay when it came to preventing goals (that 13.8 means that the Canucks were 13.8 goals better than the NHL average), and pretty terrible when it came to scoring them.

Trying to improve the Canucks goaltending is like a news anchor spending more time ironing his pants when his boss complains about his on-air appearance. I mean, sure, it probably couldn’t hurt, but it’s distracting from the real problem.

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I like the Radim Vrbata signing because Vrbata does two things when he’s on the ice: take shots and score goals. He’s scored at a 20-goal rate for five consecutive seasons and has averaged close to three shots a game throughout his career. That’s the kind of player the Canucks need, but the problem with Vrbata is that he’ll be 33 next season, and far from a long-term solution.

The only players the Canucks have below the age of 26 with a 20-goal season to his credit is Nick Bonino, and nobody should expect Bonino to repeat last year’s performance, where he scored goals nearly 200% of his career rate (sustainable!).

It’s not that the $6-million the Canucks will spend on Miller for three years could be better served looking at other players in free agency, but possibly conserved for when a young player does become available. A year ago Bobby Ryan was traded from Anaheim to Ottawa, there have been rumours involving trades of Evander Kane and Nazem Kadri from their respective teams, and any of those three players would go further towards correcting the real issue with the Canucks than Miller.

And I don’t think for a minute that Trevor Linden and Jim Benning don’t know this, and that they’ve had to suck it up and make a move to appease a large casual fan base that’s been turned off by the lack of star power. There’s wasn’t much difference, numerically, between Miller’s and Lack’s seasons a year ago. The real difference between the two goaltenders is that Miller is a household name and Lack isn’t, having gone undrafted and beginning his pro career in Sweden. At 26 and a starting goaltender for four of his seasons in the pros, you’d be more stretching why that guy, who comes with a cheap price tag, shouldn’t be a starting goalie in the NHL rather than should.

Goaltending, as we’ve covered, is impossible to predict in small samples. Miller could have a great season next year, but there’s a chance that in an alternate universe, a Canucks team that used the $6-million elsewhere and went with Lack as the starter did better.

Besides, the more you improve your skaters, the less point there is to even having a good goaltender. Improving a team’s Corsi by 1.5% can have the same effect as an average team as adding 5 points of save percentage, and improving the players in front of the goaltender is a much more sustainable way to build a team.

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I get that a lot of people posted on Facebook that “the Canucks had two goalies and now they have none!” and a lot of those people buy tickets, but as mentioned in Moneyball, the key to improving attendance is to turn your no-names into star players by winning games.

Just by analyzing the Canucks needs, I don’t think you can argue that the Canucks are a better team by adding Ryan Miller. If anything, it makes them worse, by tying up precious salary cap funds at a position that doesn’t need drastic improvement.

Stats via ExtraSkater

  • First off, I love your website. Cam, I understand your hesitancy with the Miller signing, it seemed unnecessary on a statistical and an emotional level – Eddie Lack is fun to cheer for. But there are a few things to keep in mind. Keeping cap space for a statistically unlikely event- landing a 23ish 30+goal scorer, doesn’t seem like a given, especially since any unlikely trade would involve a “roster piece” going the other way with at least a $2million cap hit. If somehow the pieces lined up, there would a way to take on an Evander Kane.
    And as you say, goaltending is unpredictable. It appears to be a more random position from a strictly statistical point of view, but maybe that’s because it embodies more elements that are harder to quantify – namely the state of mind of the goalie. Yes, Ryan Miller’s ego will be challenged when there’s “Eddie Chants”, but there’s also reason to believe that the “room” will be incredibly catalystic to him doing well and I think sometimes as fans we underestimate the importance of the interactions of those you play with. Coach Willie will do nothing if not increase the tendency or likelihood of success. That, and the fact Miller has a bit of talent, makes the chance that this could work, even with the gobbled cap space, more likely than not.

  • bygfeete

    Good to see an article from you Cam! Missed your musings.

    I don’t think there’s a single person out there who knows what the Canucks are doing. 3 months after getting rid of a goalie circus and bad contract, they immediately get themselves into a new one. Miller for 3 yrs @ $6M per? Caman. Nobody can actually be happy with this contract, right? Well, except Miller.

    Trading Kesler for 5 cents on the dollar. Trading Garrison for a bag of pucks. Getting rid of 2 no trade clauses only to hand out 2 more in a 3 day span. How is the fanbse seriously comfortable with this situation?

    The direction went from “we’re trying to win a cup”, to “we’re trying to make the playoffs” in 1 season. Seriously. What portion of the fan base who’s never seen the Stanely Cup is comfortable with ‘just making the playoffs”?

    Vrabata or no Vrbata, this teams isn’t competing with the big dogs in the west. It’s time for a rebuild.

  • Brent

    I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is does Ryan Miller AND Eddie Lack make the Canucks a better team. As opposed to Eddie Lack AND Jacob Markstrom.

      • andyg

        Excellent article!

        The point is the most likely prediction is that Miller will be slightly worse than what Lui was.
        (Since Miller career #’s are lower than Lui’s).

        So we already have a solid picture what ‘good’ goaltending gives this team!

        There is simply no logical way to defend this move.

        Of course ‘anything can happen’ – but based on probabilities it is an extremely poor use of resources.
        This is simple a PR move.
        This article outlines it nicely. Well Done!

        In addition, If/when Eddie improves there is a very good chance he will outplay Miller (whose numbers could regress sharply as soon as next year). If/when this happens does Ryan strike you as the kinda guy who would be willing to accept a back-up role (even with the cash?).
        With our new coach (Linden/Benning) actually calling the shots over their puppet Willie?! And, would they allow Miller to sit thus pointing out their bad decision early in their new tenure?!

        Can you say (Goalie controversy 2.0) LOL

      • andyg

        Miller had a 9.23 sv% in 40 games last year in Buffalo. He struggled with the Blues and did not show well in the play offs.

        He comes with the same work ethic as Lou and has the same high end talent. It puts us back to the position of having a top end tandem again.

        4 mil would have been better but we gave up nothing to get him.(3 years verses 8 with Lou)

        You people are always looking for the negative side.

  • I have a feeling the Canucks made contract offers to the top free agent forwards out there and just didn’t land any. Stastny signed in his home town basically, vanek did the same. Almost. Hemaky followed spezza. Camalleri got silly term from nj. I think miller was there fall back option, benning knows him so he doesn’t mind spending the extra money on him. The one very consistent trend in this management group is that it likes surrounded itself with people it is familiar with.

    As for a young established star becoming available, I don’t think the Canucks would be willing to part ways with a top end prospect to make that trade happen. Cap space will be one of the last things that stops a trade like that from happening. If Arizona can get Tampa to eat cap space so they can get ganger at a cheaper price anything is possible.

    ~ nick Ritchie is number one in my heart

  • Out of curiosity… do you guys here actually KNOW that Linden/Benning did the trade to; “appease a large casual fan base that’s been turned off by the lack of star power.”!?

    Or is this just your wild guess? I personally think you’re underestimating their integrity be assuming that.

    Could it be that the organisation saw Läck/Markström as a risk? That they needed to upgrade the situation?

    And in that case, why not Miller? I’m not saying I’m happy with 6m, or 3 yrs, but one thing that comes to my mind is this; Läck showed us last year that he is a great goalie in a tandem system! Both Lou and Läck did better, and they seemed comfortable with it. It wasn’t before Torts started to favour Läck that it got bad.

    Sooo… perhaps Miller is here to tandem with Läck for the first, perhaps second year, as a mentor, and then go for Läck as our no 1 when he’s totally matura for it? (He wasn’t last year at the end.)

    So are you not happy with just Miller being Miller, or that we got a new goalie all together!?

    I think Miller makes us a better team than not having him. But I also agree that if (a big IF) we could land a younger top 6 forward for the 6 m, that would have been better! 🙂

    • The best 3 forwards the Canucks had last year were:

      Santorelli (before his injury).

      Booth (the last 25 games of the season).


      I expect all 3 of these players to build on last year and have great seasons this year……..


  • Clar

    “Trying to improve the Canucks goaltending is like a news anchor spending more time ironing his pants when his boss complains about his on-air appearance.”

    Perfect. Made me come out of lurking

  • orcasfan

    I think that Linden and Benning & Co believe that last season’s woeful goal scoring was mostly due to the whole team going off the rails (hello Torts!). They do not expect anywhere near a repeat this coming season. I think this is a very reasonable assumption.

    They also, obviously, had no faith in the Lack/Markstrom tandem. So, wanted to solidify the goalie situation. I suspect that Benning, coming from Boston where they have emphasized the importance of a reliable goalie (and are willing to pay for it), is uncertain about Lack’s readiness to take on the #1 role. Looking at the UFA’s available, undoubtedly the best were Miller and Hiller. For whatever reason, they were turned off Hiller. If you were looking for reliable goalies, do you think they should have gone for someone like Cam Ward or Bryzgalov? They would be cheaper, for sure, but how reliable?

    Did they overpay? Of course they did…it’s par for the course in the UFA market! But they got the term they wanted.

    The new management team have set their sights on the playoffs. A good, reasonable objective for this team. At the same time, they have started a rebuild. Based on stocking the prospect cupboard through drafting, as well as acquiring promising young players. There are several young prospects in the system now that need to be given the opportunity to compete for a roster spot. If you fill up all the possible roster spots with more experienced players (at a cost of picks or other roster players), when do those prospects get the chance to hone their skills/talent in the big show?

    All in all, I think the Miller signing was an insurance move for the backend as well as reassuring the veterans that they had a goalie tandem that they could count on. It also puts pressure on those vets to demonstrate that last season was, indeed, an aberration, and that they can actually return to their previous form, or something close to it!

  • andyg

    Goal tending is very important.

    If we were to get average years from players this year it might look like this.

    Bonino 18
    Burrows 18
    Hansen 15
    Higgins 20
    Matthias 15
    Richardson 10
    Vey 10
    Vrbata 30
    Henrick 20
    Daniel 25

    Ten forwards 181 goals. last years D scored 30

    211 goals is more than LA.

    Goal tending is a big deal and could put us back in the hunt for the play offs.

    As they say,once in anything can happen.
    Goal tending and defense can take you a long way.

    I missed Kassian and maybe Horvat makes the team.

    • andyg

      Some good points.

      Yes, the Canucks are better with Miller and he could put up some very good numbers. The Canucks, again, aren’t committing to a total rebuild which kinda sends you down the road of good but not good enough (and not having a lot of up and coming talent). It’s a tough spot cuz I’m sure ownership wants a contender so they can sell $ and get playoff revenue.

      I don’t mind what the Canucks are doing but it’d be nice to make some moves to get a young forward or two. It’d be nice to see them deal Tanev, Higgins and Hansen for Kreider and a pick.

  • andyg

    This article doesn’t! Provide anything but whining. Not only do we have cap to sign those players you mentioned we would have to give players as we’ll clearing more cap. The need you are crying over is actually met and miller is definitely a better goalie then lack and markstrom.

  • Barnabas

    Thank you Cam for an interesting post.

    You mentioned:
    The only players the Canucks have below the age of 26 with a 20-goal season to his credit is Nick Bonino, and nobody should expect Bonino to repeat last year’s performance, where he scored goals nearly 200% of his career rate (sustainable!).

    Using the same argument, is it not possible that Lack could also have had a good season that could be hard to repeat?

    I looked at the various rosters of teams in the West and think our goaltending is right up there with the others, our defence is solid and if the forwards bounce back as they should, we should be able to compete for the 7th spot. Given what happened last year, it is imperative that we come out flying to start the season and having Miller gives me more comfort than Lack and Markstrom, much as I like the pair.

    Question regarding what happens to Markstrom. If we try to send him down, I think Winnipeg will claim him. Can we have him play invEurope with no cap hit or will we have to trade him? We never really saw him play properly with the way JT used him down the stretch.

    As for Kadri, not so sure we could afford him. Kane could be a huge distraction and probably better left to play elsewhere.

  • bygfeete

    Here’s a thought…

    I dont think Miller being a savior is the point or purpose…

    They are growing Lack and Miller could be a good mentor, he is only on the books for 3 years and though the $ are a bit high the short term makes many different deals possible down the road (with minimal negative impact).

    Also, I think the odds of Miller playing out the full 3 years as #1 is very low as long as Eddie shows he is ready to take over.

    I dont imagine Miller being #1 for more than 1.5 to 2 seasons, again assuming Lack progresses as planned.

    Also, if it gives the Nucks a better chance to win based on a shared workload (and Lack was not ready for 60+ games) then the youngsters coming up and the vets recovering from last year can get through the season in a more successful environment and winning mindset.

    So for me, the answer is a resounding yes!, he does make the team better, he is not the only one who could but he has his specific benefits and a goalie move was needed. Lack/Markstrom was never going to be the right 1-2 punch for the coming season.

    • andyg

      > I dont imagine Miller being #1 for more than 1.5 to 2 seasons, again assuming Lack progresses as planned.

      So in 1.5 seasons, the Canucks will have a $6 Million backup. That’s the key to success!

      > Lack/Markstrom was never going to be the right 1-2 punch for the coming season.

      What are you basing this off of? Markstrom has played all of 4 games in Canucks uniform and 10 months ago was considered the #1 goalie prospect in the league. On what basis is he being given up on?

      • Barnabas

        If Markstrom was a sure thing, Florida would have had success with him in the pipes and kept him. He is still a prospect and expecting him to give your team confidence at this stage in the reset would be highly risky. Moving him for a second round pick would be a wise move if we can, assuming he cannot be sent to Europe, to save cap space.

        With an increased cap and a team that is moving towards more youth in its lineup, I think Miller in Year 3 may be insurance should Lack sign elsewhere as a UFA after 2 years.

      • bygfeete

        Actually, for half a season, i could see Miller taking a back seat or an even split… not uncommon when you have a young star on the rise. If that happens before the end of season 2, then he would be moved likely before the start of season 3.

        A little snarky in your response arent you? Did you consider how the scenario might play out, or just immediately move into attack mode?

        Are you saying Lack/Markstrom is a tandem any NHL team should carry into the new season as a set pair? Really? I think most agree that Lack is the better bet, so by process of elimination if that duo isnt the one you want then you drop the least likely #1 and move on with a new pair… exactly whaat it looks like they are doing.

        Or do you somehow imagine Lack should go and Markstrom is the keeper? M’s record has nothing to do with it unless he is the guy you want for the future.

        • Barnabas

          > Actually, for half a season, i could see Miller taking a back seat or an even split… not uncommon when you have a young star on the rise.

          Again, it’s not good asset or cap management to spend $6M on a guy you expect to take the back seat.

          > If that happens before the end of season 2, then he would be moved likely before the start of season 3.

          Except Miller has an NTC, this club has had great success with trading people with those.

          > A little snarky in your response arent you?

          See above.

          > Are you saying Lack/Markstrom is a tandem any NHL team should carry into the new season as a set pair? Really?

          A team that has settled on Nick Bonino as its 2C isn’t planning on making the cup final. If you have two highly regarded prospects in such a random position (which goaltending is) and are not in “win now” mode, what’s the problem with playing them, seeing which one develops better and then trading one? Markstrom will have to be either traded for essentially nothing or lost on waivers. He never even had a chance. That is a waste of a highly regarded prospect.

          > Or do you somehow imagine Lack should go and Markstrom is the keeper? M’s record has nothing to do with it unless he is the guy you want for the future.

          Like I said above, without at least giving Markstrom a chance, on what basis can you say that Lack is the better choice?

          • andyg

            It doesn’t “fix” anything. Like I said up above, they are going to have to trade a highly regarded prospect from a position of very little leverage, even less now that he’s asked to be traded. They’ll be lucky to get a third round pick for him.

          • Barnabas

            At least 3 teams are interested so hopefully we will be able to get a valuable asset or high draft pick in return. Winnipeg would make sense and give Jacob an opportunity to take the next step. Seems like a good kid – hope he has a successful NHL career.

  • Barnabas

    Now that Miller is here and appears to be the clear cut starter to begin the season, should Lack necessarily even be the backup over Markstrom?

    While Lack is 2 years older and was doing well as a backup last year in the NHL, he has never really been better than Markstrom when compared at the same age.

    In 2009, Markstrom posted a .927 save percentage in the SEL while Lack, as his backup in Byrnas IF Gavle, posted a .911 save percentage.

    Over their AHL careers, Markstrom has a .917 save percentage (stopped 3756 of 4094 shots) and Lack has a .923 save percentage (stopped 3095 of 3355 shots).

    However, Markstrom also started in the AHL at a younger age (20) compared to Lack (22).

    Factoring out Markstrom’s first AHL season as a 20/21 year old, he has a .922 save percentage (stopped 2705 of 2935 shots).

    Markstrom’s AHL work from his 21/22 season through his 23/24 season is pretty much on par with Lack’s AHL work from his 22/23 season through his 24/25 season.

    Subjectively, there’s an argument that Lack has had a more straightforward succession plan.

    Three years in the AHL (though the last was injury-shortened) and he began his first NHL season at age 25 as a backup.

    Whereas Markstrom has been shuttled back and forth from the AHL to the NHL, has been expected at times to be a starter at a very young age on a bad team and has never enjoyed the privilege of a defined role for an extended period of time.

    Much like Schneider, Markstrom was a well regarded prospect (3rd goalie selected in the 2008 draft), had three good years in the AHL and, if given the opportunity, could serve as a backup to an established NHL starter in his age 24/25 season (the first time Schneider showed legit NHL success).

    The only real “advantage” Lack has on Markstrom is that he showed success as an NHL backup last year (though he struggled as a starter) in his age 25/26 season.

    However, Markstrom’s NHL struggles in roughly the same number of games as Lack have been played in his age 20-24 seasons.

    Considering Miller is probably in line to play 60 games like Lou did in 2010-2011, perhaps it makes sense to see if Markstrom in a defined role can harness the potential he has long been though to possess…

      • andyg

        It’s entirely possible.

        Also, Markstrom becomes a UFA at the same time as Miller.

        If Markstrom were to show he was ready to be an NHL starter after 2 years as Schneider did, he probably wouldn’t be in line for a big contract until Miller was off the books.

        It wouldn’t be like the Lou/Schneider saga.

        It would be more akin to Thomas/Rask where the contract of the established goalie doesn’t force the trade of the younger one…

        • Barnabas

          Keep in mind that Lack is UFA after 2015-2016 season (one year before Miller and Markstrom reaches UFA and RFA status respectively). This would lead me to believe that one of either Lack or Miller will be moved before the 2015-2016 trade deadline (keep in mind that Miller is movable because he had a limited NTC), while Markstrom has almost 2 years work on his game in the AHL and prove that he can reach his potential.

          • Barnabas

            Crap! You are right! Knew that Markstrom wouldn’t have accumulated enough games to burn his waiver exemption, but didn’t even occur to me to check on when he played his first game (1 game in 2010-2011…. way to burn a contract year you clowns in Florida!).

            To answer your question. Yes, he will definitely be claimed and this does complicate things for us quite a bit. While Lack is NHL waiver exempt, he has shown that he won’t benefit from playing anymore games at the AHL level, and shouldn’t be buried in the minors just to protect our goaltending depth (keep in mind we also have Eriksson). I guess that is the reason why Miller was signed… A tandem of Lack/Markstrom is too green (unless we are gunning for McDavid) and a Miller/Markstrom combo is acceptable if we can turn Lack into a nice asset (1st rounder in 2015 draft?). The thought that any team will give us a decent return on Markstrom would be improbable at best (where is Garth Snow when you need him?). Either way, I would expect management to make a determination soon.

          • Barnabas

            I doubt that Lack can be turned into a 1st Rounder in 2015.

            Is Lack waiver exempt? From what I recall, he was with the Moose in 2010, and that makes him no longer waiver exempt in 2014.

          • Barnabas

            According to CapGeek (and I wish I could link you to the pages, but meh), neither Lack nor Markstrom are waiver exempt. Both signed in 2010. Markstrom actually played a single NHL game in 2011, while Lack logged 53 games with the Moose.

            So, we all know that *now*, but presumably the Canucks organization knew all along that bringing in a third goalie meant that they were going to lose one of these two young guys, and the best case would be they get some mostly-useless draft pick for them, where the worst case is they get picked up on waivers. This is definitely one of the things that irks me about the Miller acquisition.

    • bygfeete

      It still really boils down to a couple of questions:

      1) Are Lack/Markstrom the pair you want to count on (clearly Linden/Benning said no, I agree)

      2) If they are not the tandem you want, fancy stats aside, who have you pegged as the future (L&B seem to have chosen Lack, again I agree) that leaves odd man out, which is Markstrom… doesnt mean he isnt or wont be good, just doesnt appear to be the game plan right now.

      • bygfeete

        But aside from being the guy that was there (here) first, what advantage does Lack possess over Markstrom?

        Though I agree that Lack does appear to be ahead of Markstrom in the eyes of the organization…

        • bygfeete

          I think Lacks advantage is mostly subjective at the moment, he appeared to have good composure in a bad situation at the NHL level even when Torts threw him into the fire and played him nonstop for the last 20ish games?

          I dont know that his numbers say everything/anything about where the decision comes from, over M, I get the feeling he has impressed as being able to handle the heat and improve more quickly.

          All numbers being equal, his readiness seems to be at a higher level… to me at least.

    • Barnabas

      This makes much more sense than going with Lack as the backup — we might even be able to get some value in a trade for Lack (although it sounds like Markstrom is asking for one).

      I don’t see how having Miller is a liability — it’s reasonable term and it’s not our money (and besides we have no idea how much the cap will rise next year and there are other contracts that will come off the books). I think there’s merit to the idea also that investing in a more established goalie also sends an important message to the veterans on the team. The message boards can be full of Team Tank/Rebuild but as an organization what do you say to the Sedins or Bieksa or other vets for the present? Lack and Markstrom are not a particularly intimidating NHL tandem.

  • Barnabas

    Now what’s bring termed as “advanced statistics” is not new in this world, at least not in hockey or even sports for that matter. It’s premise is derived from modern economic theory. Ie using statistics and models to predict behaviors in market conditions. The issue is,economic theory (ie advanced hockey statistics) always and will forever be only be an approximation or hypothesis of the truth. It is not the truth or predictor of truth, it tries really hard and does as good a job as any.

    The reason being is that there are intangibles that come into play, that straight analytics cannot measure or predict in real life.

    Now lets have some straight talk……Sure on paper Miller is a wash compared to Lack. How much does he impact statistically is only marginal at best. But what is missing are the intangibles? How does Miller affect his teammates? Is he a leader in the dressing room? Does he instill that slight bit of more confidence into his teammates that makes players in front of him play closer to the edge? You know when Lou always gave that softie, it would relate the entire team, sure Lou has great stats, but it didn’t be necessarily translate to success on the ice as a team.

    Economic theory is used as a tool to “help” decision making in business, it is not the decision making tool. There is a human element that comes into decision making, that so far any model is not able to fully predict, that’s why some people are leaders, others not. You get situations where 1+1=3, something more happens than expected. But then again there could also be the case where something less happens as Torts proved us last year….

    • Barnabas

      Shouldn’t even dignify this with a response but…Luongo brought us 252 wins. You know what installs confidence in the team? Stopping the puck. So yeah, I think things like sv %, gf, ga etc might actually tell you something.

      By your logic perhaps we should have kicked the tires on brodeur

      • orcasfan

        Hey actually i was and still am a Lou fan, i believe the way the previous mgt treated him was crap, and especially the fans (at least before strombone was let out of the hat) My point is that yes statistically Lou was great, he is a great player. But did he win a cup. As an individual, he cant, despite his strong statistics. Of course if you have crap stats, the team will never be in a position to yes Lou out us in a position in 2011. I was only making reference to the odd softie how it demoralizes a team, maybe you let in two goals, on 50 shots, for the game have great stats, but both goals were floaters from the red line. I was making reference to confidence, and how it can impact a team, not trashing Lou.

        My point is that hockey decisions are not all about stats there are other “intangibles” that players bring that cannot be summarized or predicted in stats.

        For example, the LA Kings. Did they lead the league in Corsi% For? Or fenwick. Or offensive zone starts? Puck Possession, etc etc…sure they were most likely top quartile, but being a leader in those categories doesnt bring you a Stanley Cup…..

        Now on Cam’s post should we have spent money elsewhere rather than goal considering statistically Miller is not a huge upgrade, and the likely hood of him having a superior year is lower with age. Thats his informed well thought out “hypothesis”, but he is not taking into consideration the intangibles and the impact it has on his teammates, psychologically, culturally, dressing room mood, etc…..we’ll see how the year pans out……

        • orcasfan

          Let’s not get into a “fancystats vs. good team guys” debate here. Sure, there are probably some number of important intangibles in hockey we can’t track, but… we can’t track them, so I think it’s important not to get too caught up in them. Hell, some number of them are probably being accounted for by fancystats without us even knowing! So let’s table that particular debate for now.

          OK, one of the interesting things that came out of the Dan Murphy podcast was his thoughts on the Miller acquisition…

          “And the other thing you have to look at is when you put yourself as a fan’s perspective you say ‘God, I’d love if they tanked and they got McDavid next year’. And fans could say ‘I could handle one more year, they finished 26th last year’. It’d be kind of fun to have what you haven’t had for a long time, and maybe a chance at the number one overall pick. But you can’t look in the eyes of the twins, or Kevin Bieksa, or these guys who’ve been here for a long time and still want to win and still want to have a chance to make the playoffs, and say ‘guys, we’re going with Lack and Markstrom, and if Lack can’t carry the ball for 50 games, we’re kinda screwed’.”

          I don’t love the Miller signing, but I think it’s appropriate to think of it as the *safe* play: they spent $6M to turn goaltending into something we definitely shouldn’t have to concern ourselves about. The *ceiling* on our goaltending probably hasn’t changed: I imagine a fantastic Lack year would probably look about the same as a fantastic Miller year. But the chance of having all our available goaltenders, ahem, “crap” the bed is almost certainly lower. Sure, Miller might continue to play average or below average, but he’d be able to play enough to let Eddie play without pressure. Or if Eddie turns out to be a one-year wonder, Miller should be able to bail us out with at least marginal play.

          For a organization trying to re-energize its fan base, the acquisition makes sense: you get a name you can promote to casual fans, and you get stability in goal that we might not have had with Lack/Markstrom. Would I have spent the money differently? Absolutely, but then again, I’m not accountable to numerous stakeholders like, say, the GM of a major hockey organization would be. 😀

        • Barnabas

          But your post doesn’t make any sense if you’re saying that Miller is going to bring these intangibles. By your rationale unless you’ve won a Stanley Cup you’re not a winner. How many rings does Miller have? How often has he gone deep into the playoffs?

          We have no idea what intangibles actually means (for example some players might respond better to having a stress-case goalie like Luongo or Miller while others might prefer a laid back guy like Lack). Who knows?

          The Kings are a terrible team to make your anti-advanced stats case with. If anything their underlying numbers belied the “results” for the earlier parts of both seasons in their cup runs.

          Miller is a decent signing for term and stability because he’s a decent goalie. Yes, there is probably a part of it that is cosmetic to appease the veterans and fan base and I think overall it’s a much better situation than having Lu for 8 years. But it’s not because of some magical intangibles. Manny Malhotra is an awesome human being and a great story and leader. But the Canucks would not be better this year for having brought him back.

  • Barnabas

    If Miller gets his mojo back and plays lights out, then JB is a genius. That won’t help EL much, but he seems like a pretty stable guy who will go along with most things as long as he gets to play a reasonable number of games.

    6MIL a year for three years? Its not my money.
    Goaltending will take you a long way and will win games that should have been lost.
    Its up to Miller, win the thumbs up from the forum or sensitivity will kill him faster than the lions.

  • Barnabas

    I look at Benning and Coach Willie and the last thing I see is guys that would put long term success at the bottom of their to do list. You have two guys that did t skip a step on their way up the ladder.

    I do believe that Miller makes the Canucks better because it takes Marrkstrom out of the equation. Was Willie going to start Lack 70 games? Probably not so that means Markstrom would start close to 20 games, which could be the difference between a playoff spot and another lottery draft. Not to mention a possible injury which could have made Markstrom our starter.

    Could the 6 mil been better spent??? Sure but who was out there to get and the “future” FAs or trade options can’t be anticipated. The Canucks brain trust is not going to start sending draft picks away like Gillis did so they would have to gut the future.. Horvat or Jake V. To obtain a Kane or Kadri.

    Next years team will have more youth so having a known quantity like Miller is a good move. Having a guy back there with the resume he has will give the players more confidence. Torts defense always looked confused, so I believe a bounce back year from the Dcorps and solid 1-2 net combination is a great start. Add in a renewed PP and those two things can carry a club far in the playoffs. This is Benning’s first season, so if Miller kills it he is a genius, Lack starts and we have 6 mil sitting on the bench. The good thing he did was have a contract that if the fit doesn’t happen, Miller can give the team 5 teams to be traded to. Boom 6 mil gone and cap space, they may even get a future asset in a deal.

    Benning doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to do things for cosmetic reasons. Have you seen the guy!

  • Barnabas

    “For example, the LA Kings. Did they lead the league in Corsi% For? Or fenwick. Or offensive zone starts? Puck Possession, etc etc…sure they were most likely top quartile, but being a leader in those categories doesnt bring you a Stanley Cup…..”

    Was it their un-quantifiable intangibles that won the Cup or the fact they are the best (by a country mile) possession team in the league? The next closest team to LA in possession stats was Chicago. I would say that the two best puck possession teams winning 4 out of the last 5 Cups is significant.