Since the start of the season, there has been much talk about the future of Olympic goaltender Ryan Miller and his imminent departure out of Western New York. Well it looks like that time is now, and some sources are saying Miller could be dealt by the end of next week. There are a handful of teams on the market that are in dire need of a goalie and they will certainly be scrambling to put together offers to newly appointed GM Tim Murray.
The way I see it, there is no better way to start out your tenure than having probably the hottest commodity on your hands, especially with teams who desperately need goaltending for a playoff push. Miller is 33 and in his final year of his contract. He’s for sure going to want to sign a multi year deal, and most likely with a contender. He’s getting ready to head to Sochi for his 2nd consecutive Olympics, and he still has elite goalie numbers. Buffalo needs a lot, they’re in full blown rebuild mode, and getting back key young players and picks is exactly what they need.
So where is Miller headed? The two front runners at the moment look like Minnesota and St. Louis. Minnesota would be in the wild card spot if the season ended today, and they really need some stability in net with Josh Harding being out indefinitely with MS issues. Its unfortunate because Harding was having such a great year that some people considered him a snub for team Canada. In a conference that has Chicago, Anaheim, and San Jose, all teams that can score at will, Minnesota will need a viable goalie to be able to hang with the big boys. Miller gives them a great opportunity, however I don’t feel the Wild are deep enough to advance in the playoffs, especially without the home ice advantage.
As for St. Louis, they are looking for some consistency in net. Right now Halak and Elliot are not giving that to them. Blues GM Doug Armstrong has backed Halak, and says he’s their guy, but that can also just mean the Blues will not part ways with him. Having Miller and Halak as a tandem in net might give St. Louis that extra push they need to gain some respect. After all, they are one point behind Chicago and one point above San Jose, however you don’t hear much about them. St. Louis is a legit contended NOW, and that is exactly what Miller is looking for. It would just depend on Armstrongs faith in his current tandem. Similar to Minnesota, I also don’t think St. Louis has the right personnel to win a cup. They’ll advance, but I don’t think they have the offensive talent to make a legitimate case for a cup contender. They have probably the best defensive core in the league, but I think they have too many role players and no IT factor.
Other teams mentioned in the sweepstakes are the Islanders and Capitals. Islanders desperately need goaltending help, especially with the health issues of Nabakov, but I don’t think the Islanders have anything to offer in return that they can afford to lose. The Capitals have been struggling as of late, and have a three goalie rotation going on, with all three being average at best this season. Michal Neuvirth has expressed his want to be traded, and whether he is put in a package deal to Buffalo, or traded separately, Washington could get some key pieces they need to give themselves a better opportunity to make a run for the playoffs, and stay there once they get there.
So, where is Miller going to go? I have no idea. Actually I do have one thought, and its batshit crazy, but don’t be shocked if he lands in Pittsburgh. Fleury simply cannot play in the playoffs, he’s only got one more year on his contract, and Buffalo will probably look for a goalie in return.