As many expected, the Anaheim Ducks have come to terms on a new contract with veteran goaltender Ryan Miller. CapFriendly reports that the 40-year-old has signed a one-year extension to stay with Anaheim, very likely for the final season of his long, successful career. The contract carries a $1MM AAV, all in guaranteed base salary.
All signs pointed to one final year of Miller in Anaheim, but the two sides sure took their time getting there. After the goalie market thinned quickly when free agency began in October, the Ducks were left with very few legitimate options to solidify a depth chart in net that featured only Anthony Stolarz and a trio of untested prospects behind starter John Gibson. Miller remained unsigned, but this was at least partially due to his unwillingness to move far from his family in southern California. With Arizona, L.A., Vegas, and San Jose all appearing set in net, it seemed like a reunion with Anaheim was the only real option for Miller to extend his career.
Miller had earned another shot if he wanted one, too. Even in his 17th NHL season, Miller still managed to record a winning record for a poor Ducks team in 23 appearances last year. Admittedly, his .907 save percentage and 3.10 GAA were career lows, but they were still superior to the numbers of the other options left on the market. If Gibson can stay healthy, he is an elite, workhorse goalie that Anaheim can lean on and Stolarz is capable of contributing as well, meaning Miller will not be asked to do too much in his first (and likely last) season in his forties, but if the Ducks need a spot start they can rely on the experience and veteran IQ that Miller brings.
While the Ducks are improved this season with the addition of Miller, they are still facing a conundrum in net with the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on the horizon. The Ducks need an eligible goaltender signed beyond this season to expose in the draft, but right now only Gibson fits the bill and he certainly won’t be the choice. This one-year deal for Miller, while completely reasonable, does not help the situation. His presence may also block Stolarz from the opportunities needed to prove whether he is worthy of an extension. Miller himself seems unlikely to sign another deal simply for the purpose of being exposed in the draft as well. One way or another, Anaheim will need to sign an eligible goalie, internal or otherwise, to a contract through at least 2021-22 before July’s draft.