Buffalo Sabres: Ryan Miller Could Be Traded Very Soon

Ryan Miller’s tenure as a member of the Buffalo Sabres is about to come to an end according to reports out of Buffalo.

The Sabres are in full-blown rebuild mode and their franchise goaltender is a 33-year-old pending UFA; trading Miller makes a lot of sense. Based on current personnel and performance, the Sabres are at least a few years away from becoming a Cup contender, or even a playoff team. By the time the club is back to winning, Miller might be 35 or older, and he’ll surely be earning a hefty paycheque, like the one he earns now; too rich for a rebuilding payroll. Keeping Miller around doesn’t make a whole lot of sense long-term for the Buffalo Sabres.

Newly appointed Sabres GM Tim Murray has two deadlines to move Miller. He can trade his goaltending asset before the Olympic break roster freeze that will last the entire duration of the Games, or move him between February 23 and March 5th, when the NHL trade deadline occurs.

Murray is talking to teams about Miller’s availability, however, at this time it is not known which teams are interested.

The usual suspects: Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues are names that have been bandied about this season. The New York Islanders seem like a good fit for Miller, as well. And there are also long shots like the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have suffered from second-rate goaltending in recent Stanley Cup playoff tournaments, and are primed to try and win the Cup this spring.

The Wild and Blues make a lot of sense because neither team has viable long-term goalie solutions within the system. The Wild recently locked up Niklas Backstrom to a modest deal but the Finnish netminder can’t seem to overcome a nagging abdominal injury that has persisted all throughout this season, and could be his undoing moving forward. Wild netminder Josh Harding has been excellent when he has played, but health has been an issue for him. Harding suffers from multiple sclerosis.

The Blues are one of the top defensive teams in the NHL but their goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott are both set to become UFAs this summer, and neither is considered elite, whereas, Miller is widely accepted as one of the game’s finest puck stoppers. Miller would be an improvement in St. Louis. That being said, the Blues are in the middle of the win-now stage of the product life cycle, thus, they can’t exactly afford to give up much off the roster to acquire a netminder. If the price for Miller is futures, the Blues make sense, however, if roster players are what Murray seeks, Blues GM Doug Armstrong may have to decline and hope for the best with Halak and Elliott.

Miller will be joining Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next week. If he hasn’t been traded by then, and he performs as strongly as he did at the 2010 Games where he won tournament MVP honours, there is a good chance Miller’s value will increase.

For the best coverage of the Ryan Miller situation, follow @JoeYerdonPHT of NHL.com.