Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports
Whether the Canucks want to move on from Ryan Miller or not, his contract and age take the decision mostly out of their hands.
Miller is 36-years-old and in the final year of his contract. Even if the Canucks wanted to carry on with Miller in either a tandem starter’s role or the starter’s feast they’ve apportioned him this season, the contract extension they signed Jacob Markstrom to in advance of this season might keep them from investing enough coin to keep him in tow.
With the added caveat that it doesn’t appear even remotely likely the Canucks have a playoff push in them, and this is a player that they should, probably, try to monetize for futures. That could be easier said than done. Miller has a limited no-trade clause, wherein he can submit a list of five teams with which the Canucks can try and facilitate a trade.
There’s a fair amount of guesswork, but working within those bounds, I’ve found three such locations that make sense as a possible Miller destination for the home stretch.
There isn’t a better fit for Miller at this juncture than the Anaheim Ducks. They have a young netminder in John Gibson playing (successfully, I might add) in his first full season with the starting job and an expensive backup in Jonathan Bernier who’s struggling mightily. You can play the mentor and insurance cards alike here.
More than anything, though, the Ducks need a fall-back option. Gibson is 23-years-old and has never played more than four NHL playoff games in any one season. The Ducks are in the midst of their window for Stanley Cup contention. If Gibson should stumble, they’ll need somebody to hold the fort. I don’t think Bernier and his 53rd best even-strength Sv% qualify.
This could prove an awkward fit. The Ducks don’t have any cap space unless you account for Long Term Injured Reserve. If the two sides want to make this work, it almost goes without saying that Bernier and the final few months of his contract with a cap hit of $4.15-million are a part of the package. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.
I tend to think that Miller would secure a package similar to what the Toronto Maple Leafs obtained at last year’s deadline from the San Jose Sharks for James Reimer. The Leafs received Alex Stalock, Ben Smith and a conditional draft pick that turned to a third-round selection when the Sharks made the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Edmonton Oilers are making the playoffs. Weird as it sounds, it’s a near certainty. They have a 99.8% chance of making the dance according to www.SportClubStats.com. The biggest non-Connor McDavid reason for that is the play of Cam Talbot. Of course, how much longer Talbot can keep this up remains to be seen. He leads the league in starts with 53 games played.
Part of why the Oilers are playing Talbot so much has to do with how well he’s playing. The bigger reason, though, has been the black hole behind him on the depth chart. They signed Jonas Gustavsson on the first day of free agency and in return he sported a sub .900 Sv% at even-strength. That partnership didn’t last, and the Oilers assigned Gustavsson to the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL. In his stead, Laurent Brossoit has played three games as the nominal backup.
If the Oilers want to make any noise, they’d best get Talbot some rest before the show. Better still, given how many games he’s played, it might make sense to have Miller around just as an insurance policy. One could certainly do worse, and the Oilers are positioned to as is. They have the cap space to fit Miller in, and then some. Perhaps the Canucks can recoup the pick they dealt to acquire Philip Larsen back?
Unlike their Albertan rivals, the Calgary Flames biggest problem is they can’t find a goaltender to take the job and run with it for the life of them. As a result, they sport the 24th best 5v5 Sv% as a team in the league. That’s not ideal for a club with plans of contending for and making the playoffs — something their acquisition of Michael Stone yesterday only reaffirms.
This seems the least likely of the three suitors, which is saying much given I don’t think the other two are terribly likely as a destination either. If the Flames could easily cut bait with either goalie, perhaps that’s different. Instead they’ve committed draft picks to Brian Elliott to be ‘the guy’ this year and Chad Johnson’s been a great story as an unlikely stop-gap when he’s faltered.