Saturday, March 30, 2013

Miller-time in the home of Budweiser?

It was a good week to be on a Pennsylvania road-trip.

Taking in Gettysburg, munching on Philly cheesesteaks, clanging the Liberty Bell and visiting the Stoogeum was a much better way to spend the week than watching Buffalo flounder in the Sunshine State.

The Sabres garnered one of a possible four points in Florida.

As much as I love Bill Hoppe and his buffalohockeybeat blog, it's hard to think that this coming weekend is "make or break" for the team with the April 3 trade deadline fast approaching.

"Make or break," really, was this past Tuesday and Thursday, and it may turn out to be "break."

Riding a three game winning streak into the week, the Sabres proceeded to sleepwalk through 56:52 of the Tampa game before scoring in a 2-1 loss to the Lightening.

Two nights later, they dropped a 5-4 decision in the shootout to the last place Panthers.

With Buffalo playing a surging Washington tonight and the always-tough Boston Bruins tomorrow, my bet is on another "break."

Which leads us to the trade deadline on Wednesday.

And, quite possibly the trade of longtime Sabre goalie, Ryan Miller.

Writer Chris Peters of cbssportsline put Miller in his Five remaining targets for the deadline. The Sabres goaltender comes in at #2 behind Calgary Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

Calgary, it might be added, raised the white flag on this season by trading captain Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins this past week.

As for Miller, he (as well as Jason Pominville) has a limited no-trade clause in which he (and Pominville) names eight teams he won't accept a trade to.

According to Andy Strickland (via Peters,) "Ryan Miller gave the Sabres a list of 8 teams he wont accept a trade to before the season. Buffalo has 22 options if they want to deal him." (actually 21, but who's counting.)

Twenty-one options for GM Darcy Regier, but very few, if any, teams in the market for a #1 goalie with one more year left on a contract at a $6.25M cap-hit.

Nearly three weeks ago,'s Nick Kypreos got the ball rolling by saying that Miller's name is popping up in the trade-market.

Brian Stubits of cbssportsline followed that up in a piece on Miller with question-marks surrounding the team and also pointing to a very thin market for goalies.

Back on March 15, I surmised that despite a thin market for goalies, especially with playoff-bound and playoff-hopeful teams, there is one team that should get a hard look--the St. Louis Blues.

The Blues play the best team-defense in the league giving up a league-leading 24 shots per game.

But their goaltending is suspect as they're 18th in the league in goals-against (2.79/game.)

St. Louis started out with last seasons' goaltending tandem sensation of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot. But they have faltered.

The Blues brought up rookie goalie Jake Allen who was terrific at first, but is declining.

Their individual save percentage goes like this:
  • Allen--  .906%
  • Halak--  .896
  • Elliott--  .851
As of late, the Blues are losers of three straight and are off until Monday.

In their three losses, Halak gave up three goals on 17 shots (.824 sv. %) at Calgary, Allen gave up three goals on seven shots before getting yanked in a 3-0 loss to Edmonton and Halak stopped 31 of 34 shots vs. Los Angeles.

Also of note, Elliot has been sent down on a conditioning stint.

St. Louis and their team-defense in front of a positional goalie like Miller would form a pretty stout line of defense. Miller and his .911 sv,% (on a team that gives up the second most shots/game in the league--33.0) would go well with the Blues' 2.79 goals/game (the Sabres score at a 2.56 goals/game clip.)

Buffalo, in return, could tap into the organizational depth of the Blues up-front--maybe a David Perron, Patrick Berglund or Jaden Schwartz--and probably receive a pick in the 2013 draft (as well as taking Halak off of their hands.)

Right now, St. Louis has the chips because of the thin goalie market, but if they falter in net on Monday, they might consider dealing for a playoff-proven veteran goalie like Miller and have Allen serve as his back-up.

Maybe St. Louis and Buffalo can pull off one of those coveted "hockey trades" that is good for both teams and good for the sport as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment