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Buffalo’s Miller-Vanek conundrum

Aug 2, 2013, 9:38 AM EDT

Ryan Miller AP

Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek have been Sabres their entire career and both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Both players have been stars in Buffalo but now head into this season with a lot of uncertainty.

Buffalo appears ready to move ahead in goal with Jhonas Enroth and Matt Hackett (acquired in the Jason Pominville trade). With Miller on the brink of free agency, some thought GM Darcy Regier would deal Miller to a team in need of a starting goalie.

Instead, Regier played it close to the vest and held onto Miller, making the situation in goal a bit crowded.

Enroth showed during World Championships in May he may be ready to see more starts and even challenge for the starting job. With Hackett waiting in the wings, it would seem Miller’s future in Buffalo isn’t long. That doesn’t play out well to make a solid trade.

Vanek, meanwhile, is a player the Sabres love. If he had a long-term deal he’d be a candidate to be the new team captain. Instead, his current deal and fat salary cap hit made him nearly impossible to deal this summer and puts him in a position he’s not exactly comfortable with.

Regier and Pegula might want to extend Vanek, but he’d likely be the top free agent available this summer and could fetch a huge return at the trade deadline. For a team that’s hoping to win their first Stanley Cup, this isn’t the kind of talk that comes off as encouraging.

It might take the Sabres pushing for a playoff spot in the new Atlantic Division to keep Vanek interested in staying but that could also hurt their ability to deal Miller during the season if need be. Being between a rock and a hard place like this isn’t enviable to anyone, least of all Darcy Regier.

  1. ashtongronholz8 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    After we lose heatley next year I wouldn’t be surprised if we took a shot at vanek. Only time will tell.

    • rsmaggiemae - Aug 3, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      Is Heatly going to be ready for training camp?
      Get rid of him as soon as the Wild can, I never was a fan of Heatly anyway……
      Get Vanek as he lives here in the off season anyway might as well play for the Wild with Pomanville… Have to get Pomanville signed but he stated that no one from the Wild organization has yet to confer with his agent……
      Went to the scrimmage today for Defending the Blue Line and it was great to see hockey in August…..
      Hope the Wild will give Langenbrunner a look at training camp could be valuable in the locker room to the much younger players….
      Cant wait for hockey to start…….

  2. porkchopexpress1969 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Good going Wild. Get rid of Hackett, and stuck with a old mediocre goalie.

  3. kaptaanamerica - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    vanek and miller need to be traded at the deadline for first rounders and prospects so the team gets the talent it needs to compete against the likes of the Bruins, Habs, Sens and Wings. Tampa is a pretty solid threat in that division as well so the Sabres are in tough.

    • hockey412 - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      I agree that they need to get something for these players, and Vanek should be a target of any team that is looking to make a run and can fit him when the deadline comes around.

      But I have to think they missed their best shot to get value for Miller. Not too many teams go looking for a starting goalie at the trade deadline, at least not one with a contract that expires a few months later. There was a market to move goalies (not much of one, but it was there) earlier this year, but it’s died down. It will be interesting to see if they can move him.

      • jpelle82 - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        i was thinking the same thing, if he was gonna get moved it shouldve been before the draft. miller’s value is falling and if he has a bad start and plays less games, he’s looking at a paycut and maybe even a backup role going into free agency 2014-2015.

      • wikidpissah - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        If there is 1 or more contending teams, like the Flyers 2-4 years ago, that think they’re only a solid goalie away, a deal could be made. Iginla brought talent despite being a rental.

      • jpelle82 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:57 PM

        when’s the last time a goalie was traded at the deadline to a contender though? if you’re making a playoff run you better have the guy in net already. there’s a scenario where an injury could merit that kind of move but man if you’re a bubble team, you cant in good confidence think that ryan miller will pull you through and deliver the cup for that kind of 1st round pick price. he’s just not that good anymore and you would want to see something spectacular from him beforehand. i dont see his stock rising playing with buffalo another season getting lit up every night in that division.

  4. longcutskolvikes - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    I’d wager on Vanek coming “home” to Minnesota.

    • govtminion - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Do they have the cap space to make a deal like that? I’m honestly asking, I don’t know their situation, but after the big signings last summer I’m wondering if they could make it work and still build a decent team around these guys.

      • ThatGuy - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        Not to trade for him. IF he makes it to free agency, Heatley’s 7.5 million contract will be off the bucks. They will try replace it with a similiar one for Vanek.

    • micklethepickle - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      Shouldn’t they be focusing on getting some blue line support so that Suter doesn’t have to play 45 minutes/game?

    • illogic87 - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      He’s from Austria, numnuts. Just lives in MN in the offseason.

      • ThatGuy - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        What do you think the quotation marks around “home” were for. Its because he Went to College in Minnesota, ma Minnesotan, and offseasons in Minnesota. For all intents and purposes, Minnesota is home to him.

      • ThatGuy - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        ma should of been Married a Minnesotan

      • jimeejohnson - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:49 PM

        That’s numb nuts to you, bro.

  5. thesportsjudge - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Does anyone know if Regier is Gillis’ protege?

  6. bullwinkle88 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Let’s face facts. Vanek will be dealt at the trade deadline, but Miller will walk.

    • zetaone - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      That’s my biggest fear. If Regier lets either of them walk without getting something (ANYTHING) in return, it only cements his ineptitude as a GM.

  7. longcutskolvikes - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Hence the ” ” around home…

  8. jimeejohnson - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    Somebody should let them know they will never get Buffalo wings that good anywhere else.

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