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Sabres’ Miller has plenty of incentive heading into next season

Aug 2, 2013, 10:57 PM EDT

Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

Three is a crowd, and the Buffalo Sabres’ crease remains awfully crowded as the summer continues. But as it seems right now, though, Ryan Miller is still The Guy.

Right now, at least.

The Sabres are coming upon a pivotal stage with their organization, especially with the enigmatic Miller entering the final year of his contract and the subject of trade talk that has gone otherwise silent in the last few weeks.

But there is plenty of incentive for the 33-year-old Miller, who had a record of 17-17-5, a goals-against average of 2.81 and save percentage of .915 last season, to put together as good a season as he possibly can.

First and foremost is what happened to him and the Sabres last season.

Not only did the club fail to make the playoffs, but Miller was constantly making headlines for either calling out teammates or what turned into a sometimes tumultuous relationship with the Buffalo fan base.

He was America’s starting goaltender at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, when an underdog U.S. team took Canada to overtime in the gold medal game.

A strong showing this season and he could regain the starting duties when the U.S. opens up it’s schedule in the men’s ice hockey competition in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

Also, he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season, when his current five-year deal worth $31.25 million expires.

The motivation should be there. He carried the U.S. to within one goal of a gold medal in 2010 and may only get one more chance to go between the pipes for his country on the Olympic stage.

And, if that’s not enough, playing to a level he’s shown capable of in the past may not only go a long way in smoothing over any wayward relationships, but could make the Sabres a dark horse in the newly aligned Atlantic Division.

  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:11 AM

    Those “headlines” strike me as media-driven nonsense. His numbers weren’t all that bad given the disaster his team’s season was. No reason to think he won’t play his a$$ off for that starting job in Sochi and a big money deal in free agency. He’s got the raw talent to put together a crazy season if he wants to.

    • djay691999 - Aug 3, 2013 at 4:53 AM

      In my opinion if it wasn’t for Miller the Sabres record would have been much worse. Maybe even the last place in the whole league. He bailed out the terrible Sabres defense many times during the season as kept us in games that we had no business being in. Remember the Newjersey game? The Game where the Sabres couldn’t get the puck out of their own end for over a minute. If it wasn’t for Miller we would have lost that game. I don’t even want to think of how the Sabres record is going to look once he is traded.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        They have to give Enroth and/or Hackett a shot. Miller is not taking the Sabres anywhere. I agree he wasn’t as bad as his numbers, but he’s also not an elite netminder anymore. The front office needs to allow the two young goalies to grow with the team.

        And, IMO, Regier dropped the ball by not trading Miller already. He waited until pretty much every crease has been filled, presumably bc the asking price is too high. There’s a rumor on Hockeybuzz today that there may be a deal in the works with Edmonton. It would be Hemsky+ for Miller. And Sabres fans are freaking out. Now, on the surface, that deal seems terrible, but when you think about it it starts to make sense. First, the deal would also probably include a 1st and a solid prospect (Lander?). Second, the Oilers don’t have cap room so a player with Hemsky’s cap hit ($5mil) would have to be included. And third, the number of potential destinations for Miller really only includes Edm and St. Louis bc he’s expensive and a UFA next summer. From what I’ve seen over there Buffalo fans still don’t think that’s enough which is pretty absurd in my mind. This is not the Vezina Miller they’re trading, it’s an aging, unproductive (last season), overpriced, soon to be FA, Miller. His value isn’t as high (nor should it be) as some fans think. Regier probably could’ve gotten a better return if he had made a deal sooner but he didn’t and now they lost leverage. And I don’t think there will be as many suitors at the deadline as some Sabres fans think. The teams that would want Miller won’t be able to afford him, and they won’t give up an arm and a leg for a potential rental.

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      You expect me to believe that the media pick and choose soundbites to shape public perception??

  2. alstottwastheman - Aug 3, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    He wasn’t awful last year, but he wasn’t nearly as good as he was. I watched a lot of sabres games, and never really saw him “take over” a game and win it for the team. A great goalie can get a shutout or one goal game here and there no matter how the team in front of him is playing. He just doesn’t seem capable of that standing on his head, johnathan quick type game anymore.

  3. ray2013 - Aug 3, 2013 at 4:31 AM

    Unrelated Q: is he rocking a mullet, or what is that thing?

  4. redridershoottheireyeout - Aug 3, 2013 at 4:41 AM

    Miller has never been an awful goaltender, he has moments where he gets sloppy and lets himself get out of position and ignores the fundamentals that are taught to every kid who straps on those big pads. On the other hand he has ad only one truly stellar year and that was Myers rookie year, the team roster was a much different squad with a lot of grinders and guys lacking great offensive talents(Matt Ellis, Steve Montador, Toni Lydman, etc.) but who weren’t afraid to block shots, even sissy Derek Roy had a blocked shot that season, or maybe he just thought it was time to take another dive !?
    Sign Hodgson, extend Vanek and do something right Darcy you putz!

    • bullwinkle88 - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:03 AM

      They don’t need to extend Vanek, they need to trade him. Middle aged players with big contracts have no place on this team if they are going to rebuild.

      And Darcy is NOT a putz.

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 3, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      It’s tough when you’re playing games knowing that if you allow just 1 goal, your team is going to lose. He would really benefit from moving to a new team with a chance to compete.

  5. bullwinkle88 - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:05 AM

    I can foresee the future. Miller will play better than last year (although it won’t show in the stats because of the crappy team in front of him) and will walk at the end of the season.

    Vanek is our only hope for getting a good return in a trade.

  6. s2mikey - Aug 3, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    He’s a poor value for what he gets paid and Stanley cup teams as of late do NOT have expensive goalies. They have decent goalies that are surrounded with good talent. That’s the formula. Buffalo has very little talent and needs every position upgraded. Start by dumping this head case and his enormous cap hit. I’ve had enough of him and his mediocre play. Sorry.

  7. bufffalojoe - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Well we go a month plus with no sabres post and now it’s all about miller and vanek. As a fan I’m tired of it, miller should have never been allowed to talk to the media! I believe he would have been traded already if it wasn’t for his loose lips. That type of crap will loose the locker room which he has lost for a few years now, and a team with a strong core and weak net doesn’t want to trade for him due to fear he may blow up on someone or something. Buffalo has 2 sports teams both which are rebuilding one of them seem to be doing it correct while the other seems to be dragging it on over 10years to suck all the money possible out of fans. We haven’t made the playoffs in 2 years got booted first round the last time we did but now the front office thinks It’s a good idea to release a New Jersey! Are you Effin kidding me right now get a new GM new Goalie New Head Coach and current talent. Stop designing a sweater and design a team you incompetent sob. If you want to be in the fashion industry take Ryan miller and a few others with you. From what I hear he’s good on the catwalk for charity.

  8. isithockeyseasonyet - Aug 3, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Hoping Ryan miller has a good year, made a fan of me in 2010 and it wouldn’t hurt having someone pushing mike quick in goal for Sochi

  9. georgejarkko - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    “when the U.S. opens up it’s schedule”
    do you guys have editors or does NBC just let y’a go rogue?

  10. alstottwastheman - Aug 3, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    I was just speaking from memory, but I looked it up, in 39 starts he had 0 shutouts! No way you can say he’s at his best. 43 other goalies recorded shutouts last year, even Enroth got one with the same crappy team in front of him that everyone else is using as an excuse for his weaker stats.

  11. rrhess1529 - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    When u start dishin on ur own teammates instead of urself urdone…..

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