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If the Sabres are going to trade Miller, they should do it ASAP

Oct 29, 2013, 3:02 PM EDT

Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres has a quiet moment on the bench before warming up to play the Carolina Hurricanes in a preseason game at First Niagara Center on September 19, 2013 in Buffalo, United States.
(September 18, 2013 - Source: Jen Fuller/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Thomas Vanek is gone. Ryan Miller should be the next out Buffalo’s door. And soon.

Here’s why Sabres general manager Darcy Regier would be wise to trade his 33-year-old star goalie ASAP:

—- Despite a 1-9-0 record, Miller actually has pretty good numbers (.914 SV%). That’s something Regier can sell to other GMs. In fact, no goalie in the entire NHL has made more saves (328) than Miller has in 2013-14. (Buffalo gives up a ton of shots, if you haven’t noticed.) Regier may want to take advantage of Miller’s numbers now, while they’re still respectable, because there’s a chance they may not be for long, and that would obviously make it harder to get good value in a deal.

—- Teams that aren’t getting good goaltending (like, say, Edmonton) could be all but eliminated from playoff contention by March 5, the NHL’s trade deadline. Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent. If he’s traded as a rental (i.e. without a contract extension in place) like Vanek was, there should theoretically be more potential destinations now, when teams still have hope of making a comeback, than later, when hope has been extinguished.

—- Miller isn’t the only goalie that’s the subject of trade speculation. For example, Anaheim may end up moving Jonas Hiller. Similar to the point made above, Regier doesn’t want to be left trying to trade an asset nobody needs anymore. Ask the Vancouver Canucks how holding out for a better offer worked for them in the case of Roberto Luongo. Very different contract situations, obviously. But the point remains. The goalie market is a unique one. It can dry up real fast.

—- If Miller’s not going to re-sign with the Sabres (and you never know, but it really doesn’t look that way), why wait to sever the relationship? At some point, a new leadership group will need to emerge in Buffalo, and 25-year-old Jhonas Enroth has played well enough to take over starting duties for the rest of the season. With all the talk and speculation, the Miller situation is a big distraction for a team that needs far fewer of those.

  1. joey4id - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    True. However, if he waits his value may go up. Some teams may be a little more desperate come Dec/Jan when they’re knocking at the door of playoff contention. On the other hand, considering his NTL (Oilers are on it), waiting can may get dicey.

    • ibieiniid - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      I’m with you on his value going up. Is there really any question marks with Miller at this point? If there’s a GM in the league that doesn’t know what kind of goalie Ryan Miller is, before or after his next 40 games, they don’t deserve to be trading.

    • skr213 - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      He’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year – i.e. every game that is played, his current contract has less value. Your supply/demand type argument that his value will go up is actually not correct in this kind of a scenario.

      • joey4id - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        We’re not referring to monetary value tied to his contract. We’re saying that his market value for a potential trade may increase. i.e. A team may be willing to give up a little more if they are close to making the playoffs and believe a solid goalie will clinch it. Remember that teams make a profit of ~1.5m per game after all expenses are paid. No player salaries. Some teams make a profit only by a deep run in the playoffs. That’s why these franchise players are on the hook to lead their teams to the promise land. Of course, teams like TO are profitable regardless of how deep they go in the playoffs. But, don’t make as much without the playoffs.

      • skr213 - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:38 PM

        Joey: the fact is that having a better goaltender NOW will allow those same teams to more easily make the playoffs and, in fact, make the playoffs in a better spot, thereby having a better chance of going deeper into the playoffs. No s*** Sherlock with respect to your monologue on how the money game works.

    • lonespeed - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      Carolina is desperate now.

  2. billsin20xx - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    You missed one big point, what if Miller gets hurt? he’s already sat out games with a sore groin, what if it becomes worse?

    I will give credit to regier for being a good trader for draft picks, but not a GM who builds a winner.

  3. dboldave - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Or they could find someone who has similar numbers/stats and trade for them!

    • skr213 - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      I get it. Looks like others don’t get it, but I get it. (think Vanek trade folks!)

  4. drunknbflo - Oct 29, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    He also has a no-trade clause and edmonton is on his list. If he didnt he might already be gone.

  5. flash8910 - Oct 29, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Edmonton is a young team, and it may take them a few years to contend. Why would they want a 33 year old goalie? A team like Edmonton is not going to move on Miller. The team that will move on Miller is a contending team, that decides it’s current goaltender is not as good, or they need a starter because of injuries. I am sure if a team is willing to drop Vanek-like returns for Miller, Regier would take it in a heartbeat. However, this does not appear to be the case.

    Do you guys know the basics of negotiating a deal, any kind of deal? Do you walk into a car dealership and tell them you are desperate to buy ASAP? No, you walk in, you kick the tires, and you tell them that you are just looking, and see if they are offering any deals.

    • Jason Brough - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      “Edmonton is a young team, and it may take them a few years to contend.”
      Things they’ve been saying in Edmonton for far too long now. Not saying Miller’s going there, but the Oilers are beyond the rebuilding stage. They need a goalie that can give them a good idea of what exactly they’ve got.

    • hockeyflow33 - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      Do you think teams aren’t aware of other franchise’s needs and problems in the league?

      You do know that every team has GMs and scouts that rank players and teams, as well as their potential fit, free-agent status and likelihood of being traded, at all levels of the game right? This is nothing like buying a car at all and it seems like you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

  6. thailer35 - Oct 29, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    What are all of the teams on his no-trade list? Is Phoenix? Cause if not, and also if Smith keeps up his shotty play, we should probably start looking…

    • joey4id - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      I might tell you if you ask me nicely? :-)

    • leninthebuff - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:10 PM

      We can only guess since they aren’t made public but he doesn’t want to go to Canada so we can assume those are 7 of the 8 teams

    • khudobinawesome - Oct 30, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      IMO Smith doesn’t look shotty

  7. tdrusher225 - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    I’m not sure I agree with waiting for his value to go up. What else is he going to prove this season? I’m not sure anything he does in the next few months is going to be so extraordinary that some team unwilling to take him before will suddenly will be knocking down Buffalo’s door to get him. The NHL should be well aware of how good this guy is. If I was a GM, I would want to acquire him ASAP to make sure he hits his hot streak with me.

  8. lostpuppysyndrome - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    Not only do they have Enroth but they’ve got Hackett waiting in the wings still. My jury’s still out on the Pominville trade. I liked Hackett quite a bit. Backstrom isn’t getting any younger, and Harding’s got MS so who knows how long he’s got either. Kuemper demonstrated that he still needs some significant work after letting in some bad goals against Toronto. The Wild brought in Gustafsson to back up Backstrom while Harding is out too.

    tl;dr Long story short, the Sabres have a pretty solid tandem of Enroth and Hackett. Miller can bring in a fantastic return and the Sabres will be better off for it. Apologies for my Wild rant.

  9. pi2000 - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    Let him win Gold in Sochi, then let the highest bidder win.

  10. chanceoffleury1 - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    If Ryan Miller’s getting traded I want to be first in line to make an offer. In my eyes, he comes across as exactly the type of player who is going to play out of his mind as soon as he goes to a contender. I think he could flourish in a city where all eyes are on him. The Sabres owe Ryan Miller a chance to win a cup. He’s done more for them than they did for him. Aside from a fantastic and dedicated fanbase, the Sabres haven’t been able to give Miller the memorable moments in his career that he deserves. I definitely think if it comes down to a few different teams not on his NT list his opinion will matter. It will probably be similar to the Iggy situation. The Sabres might take a little less to let Miller go where Miller wants to go and not just the place with the best offer even if a few teams not on his list are putting in their bid.

    And call me crazy but I would love to see him end up in St. Louis. I think he’d be a wall behind their defense and could put them into that category of truly elite teams. They’re pretty deep in their system so they could afford to toss either Halak or Elliot in the deal on top of a high pick and/or prospects. Both are UFAs at the end of this season anyway, and Allen held his own last year if they wanted to really shake things up and deal the other one in another deal. I like Ryan Miller so I’d like to see him find some team-oriented success. People saw what he did in 2010 when he had a real defense playing in front of him.

  11. endusersolutions2013 - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    The best match I see is once again with the Islanders. They have the cap space. They are a likely playoff team who’s ability to get there and especially get past the 1st round is directly related to goaltending. Nabokov let them down profoundly in the playoffs last year (.840 save %)

    This is a team that Miller may well buy into and work out an extension so that he’s not a rental.

    Not an Islanders fan, just look at thinks analytically

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