Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Why Ryan Miller May Be Willing to Stay in Buffalo

Remember all the drama surrounding Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres last season? It was a hectic season that resulted in the netminder selling his house and hugging each of his teammates one-by-one after the final buzzer. At the end of last season it truly seemed like the curtain had set on Ryan Miller‘s time in Buffalo. It was clear that Miller wanted out. At age 33 Miller isn’t getting any younger and would like a shot to play on a true Stanley Cup contender before his career is up and with Buffalo heading into a rebuild, now seemed like the perfect time to send Miller packing. Unfortunately for Miller, he couldn’t have picked a worse time to look for a new home in the NHL.

When you look around the NHL you realize there are very few openings for a starting goaltender. Few openings and a tight cap space make it hard for goaltenders like Ryan Miller to find work. After not being moved in the offseason and seeing the Roberto Luongo circus, Miller says staying in Buffalo may not be so bad;

“I’m not closed off to the possibility. I’m not going to close too many avenues at this point.” ~ Ryan Miller on re-signing with the Sabres.

The goaltending market is tough. A lot of the openings have already been filled; The New Jersey Devils picked up Cory Schneider to succeed Martin Brodeur, the Leafs now have two young goaltenders in Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, Roberto Luongo will be staying in Vancouver and even Ray Emery is attempting to stop the Philadelphia Flyers rotating crease. Two teams that might make a bid on Miller are the San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders, but do either have the cap space?

Unfortunately for Ryan Miller he picked the absolute worst time to be looking for a new crease as the majority already have a netminder.

The goalie market around the NHL is pretty dead with a lot of teams sticking with what they have in their system and the ever-changing cap, fewer and fewer teams are willing to shell out the money. After an offseason with few bites, Ryan Miller will be back in blue and gold next season.

So does Ryan Miller really want to stay in Buffalo long-term? No. It’s clear Miller wants out of Buffalo; He put his house up for sale and gave a very convincing goodbye to all his teammates at the end of last season. He’s tired of the media, the lack of support from his teammates and the lack of success the Sabres have had. He clearly wants out, but he’s not stupid either. Miller knows the goaltending jobs in the NHL are few and far between and burning bridges with the Sabres won’t help him in finding a new home and re-signing a one-year deal might not be horrible.

Miller finds himself in a tough spot. He’s one of the top goalies in the NHL but has been victimized by atrocious defence and as a result has seen his stock plummet. While Miller has been “sliding” other goalies have been climbing the ranks and now his spot with team USA is in jeopardy. But he’s still the same goaltender who nearly shocked the world at the 2010 Olympics and went on to win the Vezina trophy.  Put Miller behind a team with half decent defence and you’ll see him back in the top 5 of NHL goaltenders. A goalie can steal a game and put the team on his back, which Miller has done many a time while in Buffalo, but at some point they need some help and that help hasn’t come in Buffalo. Miller gives his team a chance to win night in and night out, he instantly improves any team and is the type of goaltender who can turn a pretender into a contender. More good news, at 33 Miller isn’t that old for a goaltender. Goaltenders usually hit their prime later in their careers, so he has around 5 more years left in the tank.

This season will be a big one for Miller. He’s in the last year of his contract and will be battling hard to earn back his spot for Sochi
2014. At this point no one is breaking down the door for Miller and he has lots of doubters. The good news for Miller and Sabres’ fans, is that we’re going to see a very determined goaltender hit the ice in October; determined to show he’s still got his game from 2010, to show he can make team USA and determined to prove his doubters wrong. There is nothing more dangerous than a goaltender with a chip on their shoulder, look for Miller to come out guns a blazing.

While Miller may not be ready to put the Sabres in the rear view mirror as of yet, do the Buffalo Sabres have room for Miller in their future plans? With Jhonas Enroth, Andrey Makarov and Matt Hackett waiting in the wings, the future of the Sabres between the pipes seems to be set.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres NHL Ryan Miller

  • Richard Spalding

    Enjoyed the article, but if I can play Devil’s Advocate . . . with a better defense, you think Miller would be one of top 5 goalies in the NHL? I’d say top 10 at best, and that might be hometown favoritism. Miller is not as over-rated as many non-Buffalo fans would have us believe, but I do feel we Sabres fans have over-glorified Miller a bit. Quick, Crawford, Howard, Lundqvist, Smith, Anderson, Hiller, Rinne, Bobrovsky (probably the least proven one on here) – how many of these guys would you say Miller is better than?

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I have to agree with you there, top 5 is a little generous with all the fantastic goaltenders who have come up lately. But I would put miller about Crawdord, Smith, Hiller, Bobrovsky and Anderson when Ryan Miller is playing like Ryan Miller IMO.

      • Kevin

        Unless the offense can keep the puck down at the other end the defense will breakdown, therefore the goaltending will breakdown. However, after sharing that depressing reality, our defense and goaltending should be our strong points. I feel that should hopefully help them from getting locked down in their own zone for too long. I think we have the Dmen to move the puck out, then it’s up to the forwards.

    • Jes

      Hey Rich my top 10 would be

      1. Lundqvist
      2. Rinne
      3. Quick
      4. Luongo
      5. Bobrovsky
      6. Anderson
      7. Crawford
      8. Rask
      9. Schneider
      10. Howard
      Smith’s numbers are really good but the way Tippett’s and the PHX system is would do wonders for even the average goalie. Take a look at what St. Louis has done for Halak and Elliott. Miller would be ranked somewhere in the 15-20 area for me maybe even lower if his numbers keep slipping this year.

      • Richard Spalding

        Hey Jes-

        You and I would be pretty close, except I am not as fond of Schneider as you are, and would like to see Rask play as well as he did last season for a few more years. I could probably squeeze Miller in at number ten, depending on my mood!

  • davidmuscalo

    The Sabres need to keep Miller and keep Miller happy. Unlike you, I don’t believe that Sabres have any NHL-quality goaltenders in the pipeline. Enroth has proven that he can’t handle the job for any length of time and the others are just prospects and not very spectacular prospects at that.

  • qwicwted

    I would have said at one point before last season that Bflo could have traded Miller to San Jose. Reason being is that Miller has always been considered one of the elite goaltenders in the league while Niemi has been undervalued. Personally, I would have loved the trade as personally I think Miller whines too much and isn’t consistent enough – he can make a slew of brilliant saves and then let in a softee. But, at this point – San Jose is not going to trade Niemi – he’s in his prime, has won a SC and is reasonably priced. I think Miller could go to St. Louis – something like Miller/Adam or McNabb for Halak and Stewart (hell you could do Miller/Stafford for Halak and Stewart.

    • Jes

      you noticed that to? miller lets like a soft goal that even a goalie with no pads could make basically every other start. he’s passed his prime and darcy would be wise to not be considering resigning him. the only UFA’s we need t focus on our team is Vanek and Ott. Those two leaving will cause the biggest holes. Enroth thoroughly outplayed Miller last season and he carried it into the world championships winning it all and winning most valuable goalie. Hackett is also ready for a role on an NHL team.

      • Caitlin Campbell

        Miller let’s in goals that a goalie with no pads could basically make? Let’s not get too carried away. Yes Miller let’s in the odd bad goal but he also faces more shots than any other goaltender in the league. When you’re rellied on so heavily as Miller is there is going to be mental lapsess and weak goals will squeak through.
        You can’t say that Enroth outplayed Miller as he only started 9 games and you can’t get a read from just 9 games. Enroth needs a little more seasoning before he’s ready and so does Hackett

        • Jes

          Hey Caitlin seems like your a huge Miller fan and also a Sabres fan so of course you’d want one to go with the other. Yes Enroth needs a LITTLE more seasoning and he will get it this year and he’ll be ready to assume starting duties by trade deadline day. Miller is gone by next year. This year Enroth will start a lot and isn’t much of a downgrade from Miller IMO.

          Yes he’s had more than one good year but has only one superb season under his belt. And as a so called top goalie in the league he should have more of those and be in the running for the Vezina every year.

          And honestly Miller doesn’t let the odd bad goal in, he let’s one in basically every other game. Goalies like Quick and Lundqvist do not do this. Maybe one bad goal in 5-7 games but other than that no ma’am.

          Miller is no longer one of the best in the league. Hasn’t been since last 2 seasons. He’s a 15-20 guy, only way he rises is if he gets on a team like Pens or Blues.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I definitely thought that San Jose was an option for Miller before last season. I personally think Miller would be an upgrade over Niemi but he carries a lot of baggage.
      St. Louis is definitely an option to watch

  • lamarred1118

    Miller hasn’t really had a team in front of him that has been committed to team defense for quite awhile, that includes forwards effectively forechecking, backchecking and everybody with active sticks while in their own end as well as blocking shots and the defense actually shutting down opponents. Any kind of improvement in any of these areas makes Miller a more efficient goaltender and a much happier camper. With Teppo getting a bigger role with the coaching staff, hopefully some inroads can be made with this aspect of the team’s makeup. The local media is not very smart so their attempt to run him out of town is not a surprise and has made a definite effect on Miller’s trade value by labelling him a whiner and troublemaker.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I fully agree, upgrade the offence and or defence and see a completely different Ryan Miller. He needs help and can’t do it all by himself anymore.
      Yup Miller is carrying far more baggage than he should be because of the media and the tough spot he’s been put in in Buffalo

  • Jes

    Honestly Miller’s overvalued. He isn’t that good. He had 1 great year. Time to get whatever we can for him. If Sabres resign him I will be sooooo disappointed. Way to many goalies coming up to resign him just create even bigger log jam. Hackett is ready for the NHL, Enroth is ready to given the starter duties. Makarov and the others can compete in the AHL.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      Lot’s of goalies coming up in the system but at this point in time all of them would be a major downgrade. I do believe that Miller is slightly over-rated but he has had more than just 1 good season. He’s consistant and still IMO one of the better netminders in the game.

  • Craig C.

    No reason to back away on your original post, Cait