The uncertainty about the future of coronavirus in North America means nearly any decision-making about the future of the NHL season exists on a sliding scale of possibility. On one end of that scale though, is the potential that the NHL cancels the rest of this season, as well as playoffs, in order to not disrupt the 2020-2021 season.
This worst-case scenario means that there will be no last hurrah for the players across the league who might have been considering this season to be their last.
Which would mean that Ducks fans may not get that last chance at seeing Ryan Miller in the crease at Honda Center.
He was incredibly non-committal while in communication with James Mirtle of The Athletic:
“Too soon – can’t even process what is happening,” Miller said. “I think I need to get clear of the real-world issues that surround us … and then sit with my wife and have a real discussion about where we are at with things.”
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“This is all pretty sad to see,” Miller said of the pandemic’s impact on society at large. “Hopefully we get a handle on it. We are doing our part. Feel like we are socially as distant as we can get.”
Miller’s wife is actress Noureen DeWulf, meaning that should he choose to return for another year, it’s nearly certain he would not sign outside of Southern California. However, the back-up goaltender will turn 40 years old this summer and as the only position to play a full 60 minutes every game, being able to take the physical strain of that isn’t a given if you’re on on the “wrong” side of 30.
Last summer, Miller signed a one-year, $1.125 million contract with a modified no-trade clause. In 23 of the Ducks’ 71 games this season, he posted a .907 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average.
Should he retire this summer, Miller will leave holding these NHL records:
- Fewest saves required in a win: (Anaheim, Jan. 25, 2018) 11:40 min: 0
- Most shootout wins by a goaltender in a season: 10
- Most wins by a US-born goaltender: 378
Another Ducks player at risk to exit the league without fanfare is David Backes — though it also depends on if the Ducks themselves want to finish out the final year of his contract.
The soon-to-be 36-year-old forward was traded, along with prospect Axel Andersson and a 2020 first-round pick, from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Ducks forward Ondrej Kase at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline. The Ducks took on Backes’ bad contract to bundle with future assets, while Boston got to ramp up for what would’ve likely been another Cup Final run (sorry). The basis of acquiring Backes always includes the understanding that the money is bad and the Ducks might decide to buy out the final year of his $4.5 million contract, saving themselves about $1 million per CapFriendly and perhaps more importantly, a roster spot on a team in clear transition.
Then again, this could all just be worst-case scenario.