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Canucks GM: Miller Will “For Sure Be Back”

Canucks GM: Miller Will “For Sure Be Back”
With a $6-million salary cap hit for two more seasons and no-trade protection in his contract, the Canucks might have a hard time trading Ryan Miller even if they wanted to.  (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal Magazine)

With a $6-million salary cap hit for two more seasons and no-trade protection in his contract, the Canucks might have a hard time trading Ryan Miller even if they wanted to. (Photo by Clint Trahan/InGoal Magazine)

Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning was a guest on TSN radio in Vancouver on Wednesday, and the conversation quickly turned to the hot topic heading into the draft – the goaltending situation.

Benning offered some insight into what the plans are for the team this summer. Jacob Markstrom, who recently led the AHL’s Utica Comets to the Calder Cup final, is “ready to be an NHL goaltender,” which means the Canucks now have three NHL-ready goaltenders on their roster.

A tandem of Markstrom and Eddie Lack has been quickly ruled out of the question, as Benning stated that he wants to keep at least one goaltender with experience around:

“I want to keep an older, experienced goalie and Ryan is that guy. And then we’re going to decide on either Lack or Markstrom. I don’t feel comfortable going into the season with two younger goalies that haven’t had the experience of being the No. 1 guy, especially in this marketplace. So Ryan will for sure be back and then we’re going to decide on one of the other two guys.”

Keeping that experience comes with a price tag, unfortunately. The 34-year-old Miller is set to make $5M next season, with a $6M cap hit to the organization.

After a disappointing season by his standards, in which he finished with a negative goals-saved-above-average for the first time since 2008, Miller is looking to rebound – and has the confidence of his general manager heading into next season.

While Benning is right that both Lack and Markstrom have limited experience as starters, going younger may not be such a bad thing.

In fact, a Lack/Markstrom tandem does not rank extremely low when looking at the average age of each goaltending tandem around the league.

Avg age2

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The only teams that had an average goaltender age of 30 or higher last season were Calgary, Carolina, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville, NY Rangers, Ottawa – and Vancouver if they have Miller in the lineup.

Their NHL experience may be questionable, but both Markstrom and Lack came to play pro in North America in 2010. That’s a lot of time to get accustomed to the professional game, and both goaltenders seem to be ready to carry a heavier load.

Going younger is a common trend amongst NHL teams, but it seems as if the Canucks are not going to follow suit. It may be a case that Markstrom and Lack are easier assets to trade, and the reward would be much higher than trading Miller. Miller also possesses a no trade clause in his contract, while Lack does not, and Markstrom is a restricted free agent. Regardless, Jim Benning assures that he is only doing what he feels is best for the future.

“We’re exploring all of our options on the goalies and at the end of the day we’re going to do what’s best for the organization.”

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.

1 Comment

  1. Stefan

    He has to keep Miller because of the cap hit and NTC so he says he wants to keep him, I get that. I still think it was the wrong signing to beginn with but that´s my personal opinion. But going on record saying that Markstrom is NHL ready is a bolt statement. Maybe Benning just wants to push Markstroms trade value ?
    Lack has shown this past season that he can carry the team at least for the duration while Markstrom still needs to proof that he is a legit NHL back-up. Lack is in a contract year with a 1.15m cap hit while Markstrom is RFA. His NHL cap was 1.2m so he won´t come cheaper (according to nhlnumbers). Also Lack is the more experienced has better stats and is only 2 years older. I wouldn´t have to think twice which goalie to keep.