Miller Time in Buffalo for the Next 5 Years
Thursday, August 28th, 2008 8:56 pm by Mike
Back in July Ryan Miller signed on for a long term deal with the Buffalo Sabres. The deal was worth $31.25 million for five years. That comes out to be $6.25 million a year through the 2013-14 season. The signing meant a lot for the team. It also spoke loudly to the fans, the media, Sabres players, and other players around the league. It said that the Sabres were willing to pay big time money for star players.
The news is now over a month old, so we’ve all had a chance to come to terms with it. That means its time to start thinking about its impact. What does it mean for the team and is Ryan Miller worth what he got paid?
Personally, I’m happy that the Sabres are going to have some stability in the net for several years to come. However, I’m also worried that stability might not be enough. Miller has a great career record, great experience, and has won some prestigious honors. Unfortunately, he is also coming off a pretty poor season. Luckily, that may have actually worked in the Sabres advantage during the negotiations, because some of the numbers I heard tossed around were upwards of $7-8 million a year.
I tend to believe that Miller is worth his contract, but that is conditional upon the belief that he is going to play better in the upcoming season. Since the lockout, Miller has had a lot of success, but his numbers have not been terribly impressive. After playing 76 games last season, Miller came out with a 36-27-10 record, a 2.64 GAA, and a .906 Save Percentage. Miller was ranked 24th in the league for GAA and 29th in the league for SV%.
It seems pretty obvious that Miller never should have played in 76 games, but Thibault’s wildly inconsistant performances left the Sabres with little choice. The Sabres have stated that they expect Lalime to play in about 15 games next season, which will reduce Miller’s load down to 67. I think that might take off just enough pressure to improve Miller’s statistics dramatically.
Now keep in mind, at 28, Miller isn’t a young guy anymore and we can’t pretend that he still needs time for development. Lindy constantly makes excuses that the team plays an offensive game, hanging Miller out to dry (which is clearly true), but I think he can still be better. If nothing else, we’re going to need more out of Miller than we got last season in order for the Sabres to make the playoffs. I want to see Miller make some of those impossible saves that will define him as one of the elite goalies, rather than a slightly above average goalie.
If not SV% or GAA, I want to see Miller’s Shoot Out stats improve. He went from being one of the best in the league in the SO to one of the worst. Miller went 4-7 in the SO last season with a SV% of only .576. That ranks him as 46th in the league in SV% in the SO. He can do better. Even Thibault had a .700 SV%.
So bottom line, I’m happy with the signing, but I’m still a tiny bit skeptical. I really do like Miller for a lot reasons, but I need to see more out of him next season to be really happy. I think he can do it