An attempt to be humorous and logical about the Buffalo Sports Scene.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is Ryan Miller worth the money?

With the recent signings that pretty much dealt with the RFA's, really the only news besides the schedule, is how the extension of Pominville and Miller are going. I personally think that resigning Pominville is more the necessity then Miller. Hes a two way player that can score 30 goals and is turning into a leader. Miller is a goalie who when the defense struggled, struggled himself. A great goalie overcomes a weakness in his defense. Like a Hasek or a Tomas Vokoun in Florida. People can show his wins and whatever, and maybe he had an off year. But do you take that chance and all that money to see if last year was a fluke or if the years prior were a fluke? Thats why you wait for a contract extension for Miller. December or January. Lets see how he starts, he gets a 2 month audition for a giant contract. You tell him that to see how he responds to an opportunity to make giant cash. Anyways.

I've been interested by the site

Its basically one guys attempt to merge Moneyball with hockey, well I guess he would be the Bill James of Hockey. And in his research on the year. There was an interesting tidbit based on goaltending.

Philadelphia (+41) found a keeper in Martin Biron and made the playoffs. The
Sabres (-17) saw him as their number two goalie, let him go and missed the
playoffs. Biron (.918) played much better than Ryan Miller (.906) in 2008.

The plus and minus he is referring to is, Marginal goals. Which is Goals for minus goals against. You may go, well of course the number would go down, since they lost a lot of offense. But did Phillys defense really get that much better? And looking at a rather interesting number will show that the Sabres had to score just to win. In Marginal goals per Point, the Sabres had the 2nd highest number in the league just ahead of the LA Kings with 2.8 goals per point. Who we all know have terrible goaltending. The Islanders had the lowest number, so this stat maybe meaningless. But in tight games the Sabres seemed to be on the wrong end. The Flyers were in the middle of the league and also had a very good number for the Shootout aspect of this stat. Showing their goaltenders were solid in the shootout. Something that Ryan Miller was not last year. In fact he was terrible last year.

Using marginal goals defense, the Sabres were 11th in the league showing the defense wasn't bad and almost top 10 in the league. The top two teams were San Jose and Detroit, who no one can argue aren't good defensive teams. Which brings up once again, that the Offense was 4th in the league, the defense wasn't awful, and ranked 12th in the defensive index, Philly was 5th to last in defensive index, so where was the problem? Its obvious, goaltending.

In looking at the 2007 review, you know the Presidents Cup year, there was an interesting note that rings pretty true in todays NHL.

Although the Sabres ranked number one in the relative importance of their offense, such
an investment is not an obvious way to build a team. Detroit, for one, got to the same
place with a defensive emphasis.

Sure they lost Drury and Briere, but they need to put money into the defense, and that is obvious now. They have offense. Their defense index got better last year, plus the marginal goals per point improved. But still super high. Which in Alan Ryder's research means they are "unlucky" there is no unlucky in hockey, there are times when your goaltender needs to shut it down and Ryan Miller has not shut it down well enough in my opinion.

Signing him to a long term, big money contract might be a big mistake, killing the cap for this team for years to come. But obviously letting him go, will be a huge PR nightmare for the Sabres, that is why only one signing could make up for it. Signing Marty Biron next year to a mid year lower number deal. He's just as good, and is a fan favorite and would take the sting off the Miller situation. But thats a big risk to take. Soooo.....

In the end, the Sabres will sign Miller to the deal, because its better to have a average goaltender being overpaid then nothing in net.

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Buffalo, NY, United States
A Stay at home dad, who has more hot takes then your average stay at home dad.