With Halak Gone and Holtby a Mystery, Should the Capitals Sign the Veteran Miller?
Ryan Miller has been one of the NHL’s most recognizable and consistent goaltenders for the past decade. The 33-year old from East Lansing, Michigan was a fifth round draft selection by the Buffalo Sabres in 1999.
The former Hobey Baker Award Winner and Michigan State Spartan is a former Vezina Trophy winner. He has represented the United States in the Olympics and won a silver medal in Vancouver back in 2010.
During Miller’s long tenure in Buffalo, he was able to help the Sabres reach back to back Eastern Conference Finals in the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons. He is the all time Sabres franchise leader in wins with 284.
Miller’s future in Buffalo was murky when the regular season began. The Sabres, with a rebuild now in full effect, traded Miller to the cup-contending St. Louis Blues on February 28 in a blockbuster trade.
The Blues thought they had traded for their goaltender of the future. But Miller and the Blues entered the 2014 NHL Playoffs on a cold streak as they lost their last six games of the regular season. The Blues faced off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2014 Quarterfinals and were defeated in six games. The Blues were victorious in the first two games of the series and then blew the series away by losing the last four games.
Miller had a less-than impressive postseason for the Blues as he closed out the 2014 postseason with a 2.70 GAA and .897 SV%. The loss was not all on Ryan Miller. He did not get much in terms of run support from the St. Louis Blues offense.
The Blues made the decision to cut ties with Miller last Monday as they re-signed Brian Elliott to a three-year extension. Elliott will be backed up by Jake Allen next season which solves the Blues goaltending puzzle.
Miller Career Statistics
Pros to Signing Miller
Ryan Miller has been around the NHL a long time. He will be 34 this July and has not won a Stanley Cup. What Ryan can provide the Capitals is a veteran presence. He can be a guy who can help mentor Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer for the future.
The Capitals goaltending was sub-par during the regular season. Braden Holtby had to switch his style, which affected his play negatively and it took him a while to adjust. Michal Neuvirth seemed to be either injured, or he was not on Adam Oates’ good side. Philipp Grubauer was good temporarily, but showed that he still needs some more developing and time in the AHL.
The Capitals missed the 2014 NHL Playoffs by three points. By this writer’s slight calculations and fair judgment, the Capitals goaltending fiasco cost them around ten points in the regular season. Miller can help push the young guys, while he can try and chase after the Stanley Cup. Miller would be a motivated goaltender coming to the Capitals and he can help stabilize the nets in Washington for the next couple of seasons. Miller wants to play for a cup contender, and the Washington Capitals are not far off from being a cup contender once again.
Cons to Signing Miller
The main con with signing Ryan Miller is the price tag. He is coming off a five-year deal that had a cap hit of $6.25M dollars. Miller will be the best free agent netminder in this year’s unrestricted-free agent class.
But what is he going to command? If he wants to go to a cup contender, will he get the same kind of contract he is coming off of? There are not many cup contending teams or bubble teams that need a goaltender. The market is very slim right now and will drive down his asking price. This writer would be shocked to see him get a new deal that was like his last five-year deal worth just over $31M dollars. If the market is slim for cup contenders and bubble teams during the summer, would Miller be willing to take less money? He will probably not get a long term commitment from any team he signs with.
This writer feels that signing Ryan Miller would strengthen the Capitals and would help them get back into the playoff picture. Miller is a passionate guy and is a good team player in the locker room. Miller was the heart and soul of the Sabres franchise for over a decade. There is some gas left in the tank for him and he has a strong desire to win the Stanley Cup.
This writer is concerned with the potential tandem of Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer heading into next season. What if Braden Holtby has another repeat season and does not fully regain his confidence? Goaltending has to be fairly consistent in the NHL to stay alive and it can not have long droughts of poor play.
Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer are young guys with a lot to learn. Ryan Miller can help show these two young studs how to get it done in the NHL level. He is a proven winner at every level of hockey he has played in. Miller is still a hungry goaltender. He is familiar with the Washington Capitals organization considering he has played them oodles of times during his tenure with the Sabres.
Leadership is something that cannot be easily taught. Ryan Miller would add another veteran voice to the Capitals locker room and could help carry the Capitals in a postseason run.
The Washington Capitals have just under $15M dollars in cap space with three roster spots left to fill for next season. The Capitals have plenty of space to make a big splash in free agency this summer. This writer would offer a contract with a term of 1-2 years and $3-5M dollars per season for his services. This writer feels that Miller is worth his high price tag because he brings consistent play and lots of leadership to the table. If the Capitals sign Ryan Miller, he can be a mentor, a leader, and can carry the load for the Capitals in goal.
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I am from Virginia. I am covering the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers. I love to write and I am a huge sports fanatic – especially hockey. Follow me on Twitter: @Canucksfin56