VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Vancouver Canucks acquired a starting goaltender Tuesday, signing free-agent Ryan Miller to a three-year deal worth $18 million.
The Canucks needed a proven goalie after trading Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo in the past 13 months and missing the playoffs this past season. Miller was seen as the best goalie on the free-agent market.
“I felt it was important to get a goalie with experience,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “Over the years he’s played a lot of games. He gives us that experience that we need.”
Benning is familiar with the 33-year-old Miller, having worked in Buffalo’s scouting department when the Sabres drafted the player in 1999.
“He’s intense and focused,” Benning said. “Our younger players are going to see the way he works in practice, how hard be practices. It’s going to make them better players.”
The St. Louis Blues acquired Miller from Buffalo in February, hoping he could lead them deep into the playoffs. But the club was eliminated by the Blackhawks in the first round after Miller allowed 19 goals and had a .897 save percentage.
He was 25-30-4 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .918 save percentage this past season. He has 294 wins, a 2.59 GAA with a .915 save percentage in 559 career games.
Despite his experience, Miller said he always sees himself as a work in progress.
“I think I’m still developing into the best player I can be,” he said. “I take that part of hockey seriously, finding new things to add my game and taking consideration and coaching from other people.”
Miller said he has a fondness for Vancouver, especially after playing for the U.S. during the 2010 Winter Games. Sidney Crosby scored on Miller in overtime to lead Canada to victory in the Olympic gold medal game at Rogers Arena.
“I’ve had a chance to experience Vancouver over the years and have always been blown away by the amount of support the fans the fans bring out and how great the crowds have been, also how kind the people have treated me over the years, especially during the Olympics,” he said.
“It’s a great city for hockey, a great city to live in,” he added.
Benning has been busy over the past few days after trading forward Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks just prior to the NHL draft.
It’s all part of a retooling effort for the Canucks, who have a new president in Trevor Linden, a new GM in Benning and a new coach in Willie Desjardins.