Buffalo Sabres fans, I’m ashamed.
Not at myself, mind you – that would require that I consider something I have done to be wrong, and that just never happens.
No, Sabres fans, I’m ashamed of YOU, since none of you have floated out what is a pretty obvious solution to the Ryan Miller situation, in addition to being the absolute best way to improve the Sabres’ lot in the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
(Please note: for the sake of adding dramatic tension to this piece, I am claiming to be ashamed of you. I am not. Put the weapon down. Thank you.)
According to the daily poll I whipped up on Wednesday, you would be okay with the Sabres sending Miller to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Sean “I can’t even pronounce my own last name” Couturier and a possible draft pick/prospect. Not bad – I’d take that . . .
. . . but what if I could get you one of the top three picks in the upcoming draft, instead? And still allow the Sabres to keep another top 20 pick, at the same time? Which would you prefer? (This is where you answer, “A top three and another top 20 pick.”)
How would I accomplish this? Why, by trading Ryan Miller and a lesser player to the Florida Panthers, of course.
How could Florida turn down this offer? Sheer stupidity, of course. The Panthers had the worst record in the NHL last season. They had the worst goals-against average in the NHL last season, BY FAR, at 3.54 (Carolina was second at 3.31). They have three goalies on their roster, and not one of them can be found in the top 50 save percentages in the NHL (Jacob Markstrom sits in the 58th spot with a .901). Can you think of a team in the NHL who needs a goaltender of Ryan Miller’s caliber MORE than the Florida Panthers?
(Don’t get greedy and say, “The Colorado Avalanche.” You’d be wrong.)
I know having the second pick in a pretty deep draft makes a team stubborn, but Florida is just a season removed from being a playoff team. Addressing their goaltending situation should be their top priority, especially if they want to be back in the playoffs next season. Drafting Seth Jones will not help them in regard, but trading for Ryan Miller very well might, and I don’t think they would ask for much more than Miller, a role player, and one of the Sabres first-round picks – not too steep a price, in my opinion.
I know there’s a very vocal group of people out there who want the Sabres to do whatever it takes to retain Miller after his contract expires next season, but if the poll I ran is any indication of what Buffalo fans want, it would appear many of you realize Miller won’t be back and it’s time to get some value out of him while he’s under contract. If the Sabres offered Ryan Miller and its 16th pick in the draft to Florida for the second overall pick (and a role player – why not?), Florida would be getting a top-tier goalie and a pretty good pick in a deep draft, while the Sabres would get a crack at either Nathan MacKinnon (highly unlikely), Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin, Aleksander Barkov, or even Valeri Nichushkin, while simultaneously retaining their 8th pick. Sound far-fetched? Maybe. It could be the Sabres would have to settle for just the 2nd and 16th pick, but even that is better – far better – than what the Sabres currently have right now.
Jonathan Drouin, anyone?