Top 3 Trade Destinations for Ryan Miller

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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.

Anaheim Ducks

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.

Edmonton Oilers

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?

Calgary Flames

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.


  • Killer Marmot

    If I were management, I would offer Miller a one or two year extension on his contract. If such an extension could not be negotiated before the trade deadline, only then would I consider trading him.

  • Jamie E

    I think you’re setting up the fanbase for disappointment. Like Radim Vrbata last year, I’m not sure Miller wants to go anywhere and may use his limited NTC to poison the trade well.

    Playing fantasy GM is all well and good and of course we’re all going to speculate ahead of the trade deadline, but I think you are – in general – treating these players like widgets and not human beings.

    Jannick Hansen has young twins. Miller seems to place a premium on stability. Edler has always maintained he will not waive under any circumstances, etc.

    Benning’s job here is NOT EASY, as much you pretend it is and he has, I think, been involved in an elaborate internal dance to allow certain players with movement clauses to talk themselves into moving with zero pressure from management. Will they? I’m not convinced. Vancouver is a fabulous city in which to be wealthy and raise a family.

    • KCasey

      Comment removed for violating community standards.

      Haha. People swear and blantely insult one another on here time and time again and my post using a hilarious quote from a movie gets removed. Touche moderators….you have given the the people with anger in there hearts all the rights and removed the humor from existance. Well played kind sirs.

  • krutov

    i think miller stays here unless he is going somewhere he’ll be a starter and even then i think he will want to stay put. i think he will stay with the canucks to try to get as many wins as he can this year.

    miller needs 15 more wins to pass barasso into second best us goalie in wins, and 19 to pass van biesbrouck for first. he needs 2 more shutouts to pass van biesbrouck as most by a us goalie.

    traded or not, he is not going to pass either of those guys this season on wins.

    so i think he will try to play one more year to be the best us goalie ever on the stat sheets.

    with that in mind, if he stays with the canucks he will get another 10-15 starts and grab maybe 7 wins and only need 12 next year.

    if he goes somewhere else on a tdl trade as a backup he could sit on the pine the rest of the season and then he will need to sign somewhere next year he can get enough starts to get 19 wins next year. that could be tough.

    plus if he goes to a playoff team and doesn’t play well in the spotlight he may not get contract offers at all next season.

    so i think he will ask not to be traded and if necessary use his ntc to block a trade.

  • Dirty30

    Anaheim would make the wife happy, but given that Miller has collected $18 million dollars in salary and no SC, he might choose a place like Edmonton just for that one shot. He could then go on the open market to choose location, including, potentially, Vancouver.

    It’s likely some California team could pay him 3 for 3 and neither side would suffer and his wife would be happy.

  • apr

    Ok, if you are Miller (assuming that your goal is to get a multiyear contract as a starter near LA is your goal after this year), do you think waiving your NMC to backup Edmonton or Calgary will improve your chances of getting a multi-year contract as a starter next year?

    If your goal is to maximize your last contract, get as much term as possible, be a starter, while still be loyal to your wife and her career – what would be the ideal situation?

    Hockey players are actually real people, seeking opportunities that satisfy multiple objectives. To think that Miller would waive his NMC to Calgary and Edmonton is laughable at best.

  • Donald's Hat Trick

    Why would a pro athlete care to get a shot at the cup on a team where he may not even know many guys by parachuting in with 15 games to go, and get that shot as a bench warmer?

    Miller’s goal is to get paid next year, and like someone else pointed out get a few more wins this year. That’s it.

    • krutov

      it’s reasonable to believe he’d get a shot to play at some point in a cup run where he could claim to have contributed. i also think you are underestimating the pull of having your name on the cup. five years after you retire the way it happened will recede into memory.

      but in miller’s case i just think he has a more certain way to be remembered as the best american goalie ever and so he will pass up a cup longshot to secure the sure thing.

  • Spiel

    What about the Islanders?

    They are on the cusp of playoff spot only two points back of Boston, one back of Toronto.
    This is a team where management is very motivated to make the playoffs after an ownership change. They have Thomas Greiss as their starter who has been struggling of late with an .873 sv% in february. Greiss was signed to an extension, but at only 3.3M per season it wasn’t exactly starter’s money. There would seem to be a chance for Miller to get starts. Miller’s name would carry some weight in the new york market.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I can see Ryan Miller accepting a trade to a contender. He would certainly get a few starts to close out the season (Talbot in particular needs a rest). If he is really feeling confident, he could go with an intention of winning the starter’s role. Young unproven goalies can wilt in the playoffs.

    He’s at the end of his career. Getting even a slim chance to play in the playoffs has the potential to raise his value for his next contract. Playing out the string in Vancouver doesn’t do anything for him (unless you think he really cares about wins for an American goalie — I don’t).

    Having said that, most pundits feel that there is no goalie market. So the Canucks might be lucky to get a late round pick even if they do actively shop him.

  • TheRealPB

    There are in fact many bubble teams with quite poor goaltending who might like Miller and as others have already said it might be a good thing for him to not only push up his value for his next contract but also to redeem himself after the St. Louis disaster a few years back. I’m surprised that you’ve mainly mentioned conference/divisional teams here — I’d think any of Islanders, Boston, Philadelphia, or Winnipeg, Dallas and LA on our side would be interesting/interested.

    All that said, it’s still mostly about how to make the salaries and roster players fit. I really hope a move would be made — it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. I’m not saying it would be easy, but hanging onto Miller for 10 meaningless games at the end of the year is worth nothing developmentally or otherwise.