While most Sabres fans are wringing their hands over what will become of their co-captain centers, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, and their leading goal scorer, Thomas Vanek, this summer in the free agent marketplace, Ryan Miller's stock looks like it will skyrocket.
Miller still has two years left on the contract he signed last summer, so he's not going anywhere yet. But if anybody needed further proof the All-Star goalie is underpaid, all they need to do is take a gander at what the Hurricanes gave Cam Ward today. Ward reportedly received Miller's contract, three years at $2 million, $2.5 million and $3.5 million.
Sure, Ward's name is on the Stanley Cup. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2006 postseason MVP. He certainly deserved more than the $684,000 he made this past season. The thing is, Miller has been the superior goalie, leading the Sabres to the Eastern Conference finals his first two NHL seasons, while Ward turned in an erratic sophomore campaign and didn't return to the playoffs at all. And let's not forget this was a goalie who got pulled postseason in favor of Martin Gerber before regrouping in Carolina's Cup run.
Ward's numbers were mediocre this season. His 2.86 GAA ranked 31st in the league. His .897 save percentage ranked 34th. He had 30 wins in 60 games.
Miller, meanwhile, was 20th with his 2.73 GAA and 16th with his .911 save percentage. His 40 wins (in 63 games) were tied for third, and the two who finished first and second, Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo, played 78 and 76 games, respectively. Miller also was sensational in the playoffs. His nine wins (fourth), 2.22 GAA (seventh) and .922 save percentage (ninth) all rated among the best.
The sense here is that neither Miller nor his agent, Mike Liut, are the type to stage a holdout for a new contract. When Miller signed his deal, however, there was a general understanding from both sides that he was being underpaid for salary cap purposes and that the contract would be restructured before it was up.
The Sabres' financial constraints just got a little tighter.