Ryan Miller announces retirement at conclusion of 2020-21 season

The former Sabres goalie will finish as the winningest U.S.-born goaltender in NHL history

The all-time winningest U.S.-born goaltender is set to call it a career at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.

Former Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller announced his retirement on Thursday after an illustrious 18-year career in the National Hockey League.

Over the course of his career, Miller appeared in 794 games with the Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks, registering a 390-289-87 record, a career 2.63 goals-against average, a career .914 save percentage and 44 shutouts.

In 540 career games with the Sabres, Miller finished as the franchise's all-time leader in games played, wins (240) and saves (14,847). He also finished second in team history behind Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek with a .916 save percentage, and third with a career 2.58 goals-against average behind Hasek and Martin Biron.

"It was a dream come true when I played my first NHL game and it has been a privilege to spend 18 years as a professional," Miller said in a statement via the Anaheim Ducks. "I have decided that I am going to retire after the season having been given more time doing what I love than I could ever have hoped for. Thank you to you my teammates and staff, past and present. I'm thankful to so many who made my career possible and helped me on my journey from youth hockey to the NHL. Thank you to my family for supporting me with so much love and enthusiasm."

Miller was a former fifth round pick (138th overall) of the Sabres back in the 1999 NHL Draft out of the North American Hockey League. In his draft year, Miller was spectacular with the Soo Indians, posting a 31-15-0 record with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. He would go on to be named the league's Most Valuable Player that season.

After being drafted, Miller would attend Michigan State University for three years, where he combined to go 73-19-12 in 106 games played with a 1.54 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage and 26 shutouts.

As a sophomore, Miller became just the second goaltender ever to win the Hobey Baker Award as the best player of college hockey. That season saw Miller post an eye-popping 31-5-4 record with a 1.32 goals-against average, a .950 save percentage and 10 shutouts.

In his junior season in the 2001-02 campaign, Miller would finish the year as a finalist for the Hobey Baker once again. However, he'd fall just short of winning again despite a 26-9-5 record with a 1.77 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and eight shutouts.

After his junior season, Miller left school and signed his NHL entry-level contract with the Sabres.

Miller would make his NHL debut with Buffalo on Nov. 19, 2002 in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. It would be his next start on Nov. 22, 2002 where Miller earned his first win, a 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

During the 2004-05 lockout season, Miller would shine with the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League, posting a 41-17-4 record with a 2.45 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage and eight shutouts. With that production, Miller was named an AHL First-Team All-Star, and also earned the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the Best Goaltender of the AHL.

It wasn't until the 2005-06 season when Miller eventually won the No. 1 job in Buffalo over Biron, where he posted a 30-14-3 record in 48 games played with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. However, in 18 playoff games that season, Miller was outstanding with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage, as he helped lead Buffalo to an appearance in the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The following season saw Miller put up a 40-16-6 record with a 2.73 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage as the Sabres went on to win the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top team in the regular season. Although Miller was spectacular, once again, in the postseason with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage, the Sabres fell once again in the Eastern Conference Final, this time at the hands of the Ottawa Senators.

Perhaps Miller's finest season came in the 2009-10 campaign when he posted a 41-18-8 record in 69 games played with a career-best 2.22 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. Those numbers led the Sabres back to the playoffs after missing two-straight seasons, and also earned him First-Team All-Star honors and the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender of the year. Miller also finished the 2009-10 season fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player.

Also from that 2009-10 season saw one of the best international performances from a goaltender at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Miller was the staple in net for the United States, helping the Americans reach the gold medal game at the Olympics. Unfortunately for Miller and Team USA, their gold medal hopes were dashed in overtime thanks to Sidney Crosby and Canada in a 3-2 loss. Miller would settle for a silver medal in Vancouver, but he was recognized as the tournament MVP.

Miller would spend parts of four more seasons with the Sabres, helping Buffalo to one more playoff appearance in 2011, where Buffalo would fall in seven games to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

On Feb. 28, 2014, just ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline, the Sabres ended up trading their franchise goalie, along with captain Steve Ott, to the Blues as St. Louis was looking to make a deep Stanley Cup run, while Buffalo started to begin its long, long road of rebuilding.

After spending the remainder of the 2013-14 season with the Blues, where they'd fall in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the Chicago Blackhawks, Miller went on to sign as a free agent with the Canucks, where he'd spend the next three seasons in Vancouver.

The 40-year-old Miller has since spent the last four years of his career with the Ducks, where he has mainly served as a backup to fellow U.S.-born goalie John Gibson. This season has seen Miller appear in just 14 games for Anaheim, posting a 3-8-1 record with a 3.60 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage.

Miller's most recent win back on March 18 was a significant one for him, giving him his 390th-career victory in the NHL, placing him 14th on the NHL's all-time list. The win allowed him to pass Hasek on the league's all-time list, just as he did while playing with the Sabres.

Miller's last appearance against the Sabres came in the 2019-20 season on Feb. 9, 2020 at KeyBank Center. The veteran netminder helped backstop the Ducks to a 3-2 win in Buffalo, and he was named the third star of the game with 31 saves. After the game, Miller was greeted with a standing ovation from the fans in Buffalo.

Not only was Miller's playing career with the Sabres a memorable one, but his contributions to the local community will forever be remembered by many. He was committed to Western New York through his Steadfast Foundation, as well as his support of the Courage of Carly Fund at Roswell Park.

While Miller may never be recognized as a Hockey Hall of Famer, he certainly will be seen as one of the best players to ever wear a Sabres jersey. He may be the next player to see his number raised to the rafters at KeyBank Center, along with other franchise greats like Hasek, Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert, Danny Gare and Pat LaFontaine.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Sean Rudyk - Getty Images