Benning: “Ryan Miller is our Number 1 Goalie”

Speaking with TSN 1040 AM, Canucks General Manager Jim Benning revealed that the Canucks aren’t quite ready to embrace the Jacob Markstrom era. It appears as though Ryan Miller, in the final of a three-year $18-million contract, will be the Canucks starter for at least another season.

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Miller, who turned 36 this off-season, appeared in 51 contests for the Canucks last season and performed relatively well, finishing the season with a .915 Sv%. He went 17-24-9 with a 2.70 GAA. 

This is an interesting development for a number of reasons. For starters, I think most of us assumed the Canucks would enter this season in much the same way they finished: with Miller and Markstrom splitting starts.

It’s also worth noting that I’m not entirely sure Miller can even handle a starter’s workload. Consider for a moment Miller’s general malaise and vocal dissatisfaction with his workload in November of last season and it’s especially confounding. You can probably win with Miller, but not as your workhorse netminder. He is 36-years-old, after all.

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This says nothing of the fact that Markstrom, 26, is going to need to learn to adapt to something resembling a starters workload sooner than later. Richard Bachman aside, Markstrom is the only goaltender the Canucks have signed beyond this season with so much as a lick of NHL experience. If nothing else, Markstrom’s three-year extension indicates that he figures into the Canucks’ future and prominently at that.

Stil, while the raw Sv% numbers paint a relatively even picture, most if not all of the underlying goaltender data from last season paints Miller as a slightly better option. I guess the big question is whether that remains the case as Miller enters his age 36 season as opposed to Markstrom’s age 26 season. Colour me skeptical. 

  • DJ_44

    The signing of Miller by GMJB was a very good move. Even at the slightly inflated price (and that is debatable) the term was perfect. It was a move made by a GM that understands how to build a team and also understands how goaltending is developed and maintained.

    You need a #1. Very rarely can you put a, up until that point in their career, backup into a #1 spotlight. They need to be mentored, developed, and sheltered by the #1. Schneider benefitted from Lou. Miller has provided the same conditions for either Lack/Markstrom to eventually take over. Management decide it was Markstrom (a good decision it appears).

    There are some moves made by Benning that I did not like, but signing Miller and his handling of goaltending is not one of them. People constantly citing the Miller signing as a mistake lose a lot of credibility in my books. Especially when the same people state that goaltending is a strength of the team. A mjor reason why goaltending continues to be solid in Vancouver and looks in good shape going forward was the signing of Miller.

    Miller is our #1; although I expect to see a 60-40 split this season which will benefit both. If, at some time this season, we have a $6M backup, it is because development occurred faster. Either way, goaltending continues to be a strength.

  • pheenster

    Even for a fanbase and media contingent which loves to blow things completely out of proportion, the Miller comment is REALLY being blown out of proportion.

    Everyone relax. Training camp hasn’t even started yet.