Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Trading Ryan Miller – What Are We Missing In Rumors?

With all of the rumors surrounding the Buffalo Sabres and their impending fire sale to rid the team of a losing culture – what are we missing when it comes to talks about moving starting goaltender Ryan Miller? It makes sense to move the starting goaltender who has manned the crease since the departure of Dominik Hasek many years ago.With the salary that he is commanding – and the fresh start the team wants to partake with – his outspoken style of leadership has worn thin in the Buffalo area – most notably with the fans.  He’s not the goalie this team needs.  The Buffalo Sabres need a goalie that is going to steal you victories.  For whatever reason, he has not been that goaltender for a number of seasons.

Why hasn’t the team gotten rid of Ryan Miller yet?  It’s all in the trade protection.  Under contract for next season with the Buffalo Sabres - Ryan Miller has trade protection built into his contract.  A contract that was signed when the Buffalo Sabres were a much better team, and his position on the team deserved protection.  It appears now though, that Ryan Miller is closer to being moved from the team.  He has reportedly given the Buffalo Sabres a list of eight teams he doesn’t want to be moved to.  That gives the organization 21 teams to talk with.

Ryan Miller wants to go to a contender.  He has a silver medal.  He has won the Vezina.  It is in him to win.  In order for Ryan Miller to be good, he has to have a solid team in front of him.  Why would he want to end up on a team that has similar problems to his current team? Unfortunately for the Buffalo Sabres - those are the teams that are typically looking for an upgrade at their goaltender position.

Ryan Miller is most likely entering into the final years of his playing career, and the next contract he gets will most likely be his last.  Ryan Miller is going to want to go to a team that is going to give him the best chance at stability and the ability to get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

At least the list of teams is places he doesn’t want to go, instead of backing the team into a corner of only a few teams he will go to.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Ryan Miller Trade Trade Deadline

  • [email protected]

    I am not entirely sure how I feel about seeing Miller go. He has been an outstanding goalie for most of his time here. I feel that the Sabres organization has let him down by not building a consistently strong team that can go the distance. I guess I always imagined if Buffalo won a Cup it would be with Miller between the pipes. That being said, and the nature of the game the way it is, if we have to clear the lot and rebuild to have a winning team then so be it. But I will always root for Ryan wherever he goes, he’s earned my respect and admiration as a player and a citizen of WNY.

    • Kevin

      Good point and well said

  • Jack Walters

    Miller submitting his “list of 8 teams he won’t accept a trade to” is not a new development. As Strickland says in the very tweet you provided, he sent in his list prior to the start of the season, as is pretty much standard procedure for players with limited NTC’s. This does not mean the Sabres are any closer to moving Miller, nor does it even indicate any intention to trade him.

    Miller has the 5th highest cap hit among goaltenders in the NHL. That makes him just slightly more expensive than declining veterans Niklas Backstrom and Miika Kiprusoff, as well as Ilya Bryzgalov & Roberto Luongo, who’s cap-circumventing mega-deals have already bitten both players’ teams in the ass. Tim Thomas, who isn’t even playing this year and could also be considered a declining veteran, would be next on the list. The one goalie you could honestly say is a steal compared to Miller is Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s $5 mil cap hit is part of the reason the Penguins are able to have Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and now Iginla, etc. Clearly Fleury took a discount to play for a winner.

    The whole “Miller is overpaid” argument is essentially a myth. He has a very manageable contract for a Top 10 goalie in the world. Pekka Rinne, Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price and Cam Ward all make more money than Miller. Only Ward has taken their team farther in the playoffs than Miller. Only Lundvist has a Vezina Trophy, which Miller does as well. None have taken home MVP honors on the biggest hockey stage of the world in the Olympics.

    Frankly, we have no idea what kind of money Miller will be looking for in his next contract. He will be 34 and the salary cap is going down. Fleury has already proven that elite goalies may have to take a pay cut in order to be a competitive team, while players like Corey Crawford have proven that great teams can win without a great goalie. He’s not going to get a substantial raise unless it’s from a team like Florida, who has to overpay significantly to land free agents and will use his cap hit as a means of reaching the cap floor more-so than justifying the contract.

    There is virtually no trade market for goaltenders right now. While Luongo does have one of those “mega contracts” and is only getting older — two major turnoffs for teams searching for a goalie — you’d think somebody would have bit by now. I would beg to differ, but I think 50% of the hockey world thinks Luongo is better than Miller. If nobody is willing to trade for Luongo (who’s cap hit is actually lower), I can’t imagine we would get anything even close to fair value for Miller.

    And once we (hypothetically) trade Miller, who’s going to play goalie? Enroth, who lost 15 starts in a row before finally earning a couple W’s this season? Doubtful. Are we going to trade for Jonathan Bernier? Maybe, but we’d be trading valuable assets for a largely unproven goalie hoping he can play at an elite level…. which we already have in Ryan Miller. And if Bernier IS able to match Miller’s level of play, guess what? He’s going to get paid the same money as Miller, probably much more given his young age.

    Trading Miller serves virtually no purpose. He can be a starting goalie in this league for another 5 years or longer, and his “big money contract” should be in the rear-view mirror. We aren’t going to get anything super valuable for him — you said yourself that the only teams looking for a goalie are bottom feeders, and I don’t think those teams are going to sacrifice any key pieces of their future for a 33 year old goalie who may be looking at retirement by the time their young guys enter their prime years.

    Outside of results, Miller is in a perfect situation in Buffalo. He’s getting paid a fair value contract, plays as many games as he wants to play, and is on a team that could easily become a playoff contender within the next season or two.

    Many will disagree, but I firmly believe Buffalo is one impact forward away from being a contender right now. Given all the one-goal games we’ve lost this season, it’s fair to assume that if Drew Stafford were scoring 20 or 30 goals, as he did the previous two seasons, the Sabres could have won half of those games and be sitting pretty in 7th place as we speak. Miller isn’t going to land you that impact forward, but someone like Myers might.

    As for Miller’s leadership, that’s a blanket statement to say that the fans have grown sick of it. I like seeing frustration in our players. I like seeing Miller call out our defense for their mistakes, or call out the whole team for not putting forth an effort. It’s called accountability, something that could go a long way for this organization if the whole roster cared as much as Miller. He’s not being a bad team mate, he’s challenging his team to be better. He doesn’t throw people under the bus, either — he acknowledges his fair share of the blame when he has a bad game. He’s not afraid to point the finger at himself. What exactly is bad about that style of leadership from a goaltender?

    Just a couple other things….

    I don’t know what games you’ve been watching, but Miller has been downright phenomenal in probably 75% of the game he’s played this year. The numbers won’t support it given the horrible play of our defense (and team in general), but Miller has made more “WOW” saves this year than he did probably all of last season. Out of all the games we’ve lost this season, I can’t recall a single one that was entirely Miller’s fault. He’s done his best to “steal us games,” but when your offense has only one line producing, and your defense is constantly coughing up pucks in their own zone, it’s a lot easier said than done.

    Fact check: Hasek was traded prior to the 2001-02 season — three seasons and four years before Miller cemented himself as the starter. As bad as it was, you can’t just ignore the Marty Biron years.

    • Timothy Redinger

      The Marty years were nothing more than waiting for Miller years. Miller was drafted in 1999 and the organization made the decision they were going to get him between the pipes as soon as possible. Not doubting Miller’s ability to play – and play well, I want Miller to make those saves all the time to bail his team out – those goals where you go, Miller really needed to be there for his team – despite how bad they were playing in front of him.

      The Buffalo Sabres are a long ways away from being a one impact forward player away from being a contender. Like it or not, Ryan Miller has to go.

      • Nuthatch

        Your reply is a little confusing. Are you unhappy that Miller doesn’t make every save the team needs him to make? You must realize how unrealistic that is. I agree that we need more than one impact forward, but why does that mean Miller has to go? You aren’t convincing me. You haven’t said who will be in goal once Miller is gone and you haven’t given any support that this goalie will be at least as good as Miller. I’m sorry but Jack Walters makes a more convincing argument than you do.

  • Craig C.

    Tim, you’re alone on this one. Getting rid of Miller is absurd, and ” his outspoken style of leadership” has NOT worn thin on Sabres fans. You are SO wrong on this.