What Ifs With Ryan Miller

Heading into the 2013-2014 NHL season there’s one question that will definitely be answered by the end of the season, Ryan Miller. He’ll either storm out of the gate and win his team USA Olympic job back, be traded at the deadline or against all odds re-sign to stay in Buffalo. Either way this is going to be a big season for the former franchise netminder. Right now the speculation is Ryan Miller

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

won’t be a Buffalo Sabre past February and that he needs to be traded as soon as possible. While I don’t disagree, the Buffalo Sabres must make a decision regarding the veteran netminder and a deadline trade is most likely the answer. I’m going to play devils advocate here.

Now that pre-season is kicking off with Jhonas Enroth waiting in the wings and Matt Hackett nearly ready to take the next step, you get a sense that everybody is ready for Ryan Miller to move out-of-town. It’s truly a shame that everyone is ready to write off the former franchise goaltender who has carried this team throughout his career and is only three years removed from his Vezina winning season, but the expectations for him going into this season aren’t great. One get’s the sense that people are waiting for Miller to fall on his face out of the gate and either lose his job to Enroth or be shipped out-of-town.

I like to cause trouble, so let’s flip the script on next season. Miller is still the same goaltender who brought home the Vezina and led Team USA to a Silver medal at the last Olympics and he’s extremely motivated to once again lead team USA at the Olympics. What if Miller and the Buffalo Sabres fly out of the gate to begin the regular season and Miller is one of the best goalies early on? What if the Sabres surprise everyone and are deep in a battle for the playoffs by the tradedeadline? Can the Sabres really rely on Enroth and Hackett to help drive the team into the playoffs? Wouldn’t you much rather have the proven Miller backstopping the Sabres through a playoff run/battle?

If Miller comes out flying next season, proving all his doubters wrong, returning to the ranks of the top NHL netminders and leads this young Sabres team into the playoffs or at least into a playoff race; do the Buffalo Sabres really trade him? If Miller can return to the 2010 version of himself, should the Sabres consider resigning him?

While Miller has fallen from grace the last few seasons, he’s still a solid netminder. He’s had a couple of rough seasons but is still posting an above .915 Save Percentage and has been the victim of some pretty weak defence. With some better defence, a little confidence and a motived goaltender, Miller can easily get back to his 2010 form.

My question to all of you. If Ryan Miller storms out of the gate and has a fantastic season, catapulting the young Sabres into a playoff race, do the Buffalo Sabres still trade him at the deadline or keep him?

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, NHL, Ryan Miller

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  • chas territo

    There is only one question for me???? Will he EVER win a BIG game?? You know, the kind that matters!! Really, when/what has he ever won a big game?? Answer that, then find the cure for Prostate Cancer!!

    • Caitlin Campbell

      well I suppose you are correct, he has not won a really big game. But he did backstop the underdog Americans at the last Olympics.

      • qwicwted

        That is the one gripe I have about Miller – it just seems he can’t win the big one. But hey…..that’s the luck of Bflo – always a bridesmaid never the bride. In all honesty, I’m not completely sold on Enroth. I know he won the worlds with Swedn, but my jury is still out – Enoth is the smallest goalie in the league at 5’10″ and he gives up some big rebounds – rebound control and concentration. I have a sense that if Miller goes – Enroth and Hackett will share time with Hackett winning the job.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          I could easily see Hackett over-taking Enroth for the starting job. I just don’t have the faith in Enroth.

      • chas territo

        Back stopping a second place finish, the silver medal is not winning a big game! Caitlin, usually you make good sense in what you write and reply, but this time you did neither. If you or anybody else thinks second place is big, you need to coach our team, hell, you would or could do as good as Ruff and maybe Rolston too.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          I’m not alone in that opinion. There were a lot of people who gave credit to Miller for backstopping them to the Silver medal. He made the American team into a contender. Sure he didn’t win the big game but he still performed quite well throughout the Olympics, and oh yeah he won the MVP.

          • chas territo

            Caitlin, I can not and will not agree he was a better than average goalie. He got an MVP award for second place. That is part of the hype for Miller and it is settling! I see that as a big part of our Sabre’s dilemma, we settle too damn much! Where is the accountability??

  • jimbobv2

    If Miller (and Vanek & Ott) haven’t signed extensions by the deadline, then Regier HAS to move them for the best offer he gets.

    The only way you don’t is if there is a miracle and this team looks like a legit Cup contender at the deadline and they are buyers at the deadline.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      that’s the biggest question, what if by some miracle they’re in the playoff picture… keep Miller or trade him?

      • jimbobv2

        To me, there is a difference between in the playoff race (you could be in 9th or 10th in the East at the deadline and be considered in the playoff race) and being a legit Cup contender.

        If they are sitting in 7th to 10th place and are merely in the playoff race, then I’d sell everyone.

        If they lead the division and are looking waaaaay better than expected, then I’d be tempted to hold onto the UFAs-to-be and being a buyer at the deadline.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          Ok fair enough, I agree there is a difference between being in the playoff race and a cup contender. Anything can happen if you squek into the playoffs in 8th…

          • jimbobv2

            True, but a smart GM will play the odds and do what’s right for the team in the long term and not just look at making the playoffs this season.

            Honestly, this team is way too young to make the odds of them being a contender this season to really worry about it.

            It’s like dreaming about winning the lottery. It’s fun, but it’s not going to happen.

            I just hope that there is a market for Miller (and Vanek) at the deadline and they are having solid seasons to maximize the return on selling them.

          • Caitlin Campbell

            The smart move would be to trade them as it’s not looking the Sabres will be anything close to contenders for at least the next two-three seasons. But I had to offer up the situation of them making it.
            The Sabres should be able to get some solid returns, I have no doubt about that.

          • jimbobv2

            I have serious doubts about being able to move Miller at the deadline.

            As long as they are healthy and having solid seasons, Regier will do well if he moves Vanek and/or Ott.

            But, moving Miller will depend on a contender having an injury to their #1 or a team like Philly having everything going but their goalies.

            The odds of those happening aren’t great because if a team needs a #1 goalie, they are rarely contenders at the deadline.

      • Timothy Redinger

        your still not a lock to keep them if they are in the best of playoff situations. Think Drury and Briere. They could be the Presidents trophy team at the deadline, roll the dice and keep them, then watch them walk at free agency. Deal them or sign them. Don’t let it get to the off season.

        • Caitlin Campbell

          We’d need to get an extension from them first or else risk losing them like you said. Signing them is the way to go

  • Jes

    He’s really not the same goalie as he was when he won the Vezina. Doubt he makes the US Olympic team either. Maybe out of respect the Olympic team will give him the 3rd goalie roll. Best thing for this franchise is to move on. We’ve got to get rid of him in anyway we can. And honestly if we can’t just let him go UFA. No need for him right now. And no need to resign a goalie on the downside of his career. We’ve got to many goalies in the system right now. Enroth and Hackett are ready for steady NHL careers.

    • Caitlin Campbell

      I completely disagree.

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  • Joseph Williams

    I like Miller, but if the Sabres let him go for the right reason then so be it. It’s the way of sports, very few spend their entire career with one team.

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