Ryan Miller is currently on the roster of the Anaheim Ducks (it’s his third season with the team). However, Miller also played eight great seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, a season with the St. Louis Blues, and three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.
In short, Miller’s been a great goalie for a long time. He’s now finishing his 17th NHL season and is approaching his 40th birthday this July. But, when he leaves the game, he’ll leave with one record. He’s currently the leader in NHL wins for any goaltender who was born in the United States.
The top five US-born goalie win leaders are Miller (387 wins), John Vanbiesbrouck (374 wins), Tom Barrasso (369 wins), Jonathan Quick (325 wins), and Mike Richter (301 wins). Quick, who’s only 34 years old, has a chance to beat Miller but it will likely take him a few seasons with the Los Angeles Kings – who are a rebuilding team – to make take that record.
Miller doesn’t play that much any longer and has been serving as the Anaheim Ducks backup to starting goalie John Gibson. Still, on a Ducks team that recorded a losing 2019-20 season with a record of 29-33-9, his own record of 9-6-4 (in 23 games played) looks pretty good. With the season now in suspension and the Ducks unlikely to be part of any completion of the 2019-20 season going forward, in this post I want to review Miller’s three seasons with the Canucks.
Miller’s Time with the Canucks
To put it bluntly, as Markus Meyer did in a post yesterday when he reviewed who he believed were the ten most underrated former Canucks of general manager’s Jim Benning’s tenure, the Canucks’ seasons of 2015-2017 were “dumpster-fire” seasons. Meyer numbered the top 10 underrated players, and he named Miller as the most underrated of the three seasons. [Does that make Miller no longer underrated?]
To him, what made Miller’s play so special was not that he was flashy nor was it because – as my father used to say – he took up lots of space. Indeed, he wasn’t the focus of heated conversations when he played with the team. In fact, quite the opposite was true.
Miller was simply quietly solid. As Meyer noted, he was “a beacon of stability in a sea of mass chaos and incompetence during the Willie Desjardins years.” During his three seasons there, his save percentages of .911, .916, and .914 put him solidly in the middle of the NHL average; however, what made them so special was that these wins were recorded when he played behind a really poor Canucks’ defense.
As Meyer notes, during his time with the Canucks, Miller had the eighth strongest expected goals-against rate of any goaltender that played a similar time on the ice. Miller faced the tenth-most shots in that group. He clearly was the most reliable Canucks player of his time with the team and was often the difference between winning and losing.
In fact, when Miller was in nets, the team at least had a hope of winning. And, all this happened when the Canucks roster was “developing,” to put the most positive spin on it. Miller’s time in Vancouver wasn’t exactly the most fun time to be a Canucks’ player – especially a goalie.
Perhaps that’s why Miller’s remembered as a strong starting goalie with the team. But then, Miller’s work has to be admired over the duration of his career. Until he came to the Ducks, he had averaged more than 50 starts per season. He was a workhorse. In fact, in the 2007-08 season, Miller set a Sabres’ record when he played 76 games.
Miller’s NHL Career Records
As noted, Miller’s career record is 387-281-86 in 780 games played. He’s been a consistently good goalie with every team he’s played for. He was even a great collegiate goalie, playing for his home-state Michigan State Spartans from 1999-2002. He had a stellar collegiate record of 73-19-12 record with a 1.54 goals-against average in 106 career university games. And, in 2001, he won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the nation’s top collegiate player – only the second goaltender to ever win the award.
Miller was awarded the 2010 Vezina Trophy when he played with the Sabres. He also helped his United States Olympic team win a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics (ironically in Vancouver) and was named MVP of those Olympics. His save percentage of .946 and goals-against-average of 1.35 are both US Olympic records.
What’s Next for Miller?
Who knows whether Miller will stay with the Ducks much longer. His contract ends after this season; however, he’s currently signed at $1.125 million, which is a team-friendly salary. If Miller plays next season, it’ll likely be back with the Ducks. His wife is Noureen DeWulf, an American actress, starred as Lacey in the television show Anger Management.
Her acting career was the reason Miller chose the Ducks over other teams after he left the Canucks. Wherever you are after the 2019-20 season, we at NHLTradeTalk.com wish the soon-to-be 40-year-old Miller the best and thank him for his great seasons with one of Canada’s teams – the Vancouver Canucks.
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