In the System
You could stick with Ryan Miller, but know your going to pay for him, and paying for him might not be that bad of an idea. It keeps you with the salary floor without the jump in the system, and allows you to shed yourself of Ville Leino and Drew Stafford if you are interested in using your compliance buyouts. You know what you are getting from Ryan Miller – and despite his downfalls his competitive nature will be most beneficial on a team that is young enough to be finding its way – and should be winning within a quick turn around under the new regime.
The tricky think with Ryan Miller is – does he want to stay. Miller has never publically come out and said this is it, his attitude and the state of the team just made it make sense. In his preliminary talks with the team, both he and the team said what will come may come, and Ted Nolan – running this years rebuild, says the team needs to rebuild around Ryan Miller.
Why rebuild around Ryan Miller? It gives the guys in front of Miller the confidence that there is a goalie in the system able to win in pressure situations, he has a silver medal and a Vezina trophy. The variable here is though, can he play at that level again?
Jhonas Enroth brings more questions to the tables than Ryan Miller. Just like what happened with Marty Biron, Enroth wants a crease of his own, and has paid his dues to get that right. Has he played well enough to be a franchise guy? Probably not but will likely be the bridge between when Ryan Miller leaves and when the true franchise goalie of the future emerges.
Is Matt Hackett the future? He was part of the trade that sent Jason Pominville to the Minnesota Wild, and has seen NHL action, the only other goalie in the Sabres system that has done that. Can Hackett be a number one netminder if given the chance? In 13 NHL games he has a total of three wins and 27 goals against – but if Miller walks away from the Sabres – he could also hold the bridge between the present and the future, running a goaltender tandem with Enroth.
Deeper in the system is undrafted free agent Andrey Makarov signed in 2012 by the Buffalo Sabres. Makarov made a name for himself with a solid run of victories in the minors – are the Sabres pinning their hopes on the fact that he can translate that success at the NHL level?
Don’t discount his position in the draft (or outside of the draft) – remember Ryan Miller was a seventh round draft selection.