The case for Ryan Miller for the Hart Trophy

Miller.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder
Trophies, making arguments for each. We start with the Hart
Trophy, given to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Next up: Ryan Miller.

Why
he deserves it:
There is absolutely no question who the most
dominant and most important goaltender for any team has been this
season. He has the best GAA (2.23) and save percentage (.928) of any
goaltender with more than 50 games, but this isn’t even about his
numbers. It’s about being the leader from the net of a team that
wouldn’t even come close to sniffing the playoffs if he wasn’t in net.

The
Hart Trophy should go to the player who is most valuable to their team,
while dominating the teams they play night in and night out. There’s no
question that the Sabres would never have been able to win their
division this season with Miller’s dominance, and this is one example of
team that is driven by the player between the pipes. Teams with great
goaltenders who are successful always have a strong presence up forward,
but the Sabres are a team who’s success starts in net feeds the rest of
the team.

Why he doesn’t deserve it: Once again,
it’s hard to find an exact reason why Miller doesn’t deserve the Hart
and that’s the issue with the race this season. He’s just fourth in the
NHL in wins this season, and some say that the Sabres’ defense is also a
good reason for his success. But that’s just a cop out. Miller’s been
incredible.

Why he’ll get it: It’s tough to deny
Miller’s greatness, and when you see how successful the Sabres have been
this season it’s impossible to look elsewhere for another player who
has been more dominant and more valuable to his team than Ryan Miller.

Why
he won’t get it:
He’s a goaltender. For some reason, some see
the Vezina as a good alternative to giving a goalie the Hart. It
happens, but it’s extremely rare.

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    Islanders sign 2016 first-round pick Bellows to entry-level deal

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    The New York Islanders made a few roster moves Friday. That included sending 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows back to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

    Shortly after that, it was announced that Bellows and the Islanders agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract.

    The Islanders originally selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

    The 19-year-old left winger played one year at Boston University, tallying seven goals and 14 points before deciding to leave school to play this season in the WHL, which has a completely different schedule from college.

    “Play more games,” Bellows told NHL.com in July. “I think just the 72 games in the [WHL] regular season is the biggest thing. I can’t thank [Boston University coach David] Quinn enough and all the guys on the team. I had an unbelievable first year at Boston University, but I just felt it was best for me to go and play more games.”

    Stamkos to make preseason debut tonight vs. Predators

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    For the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, Steven Stamkos will be in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.

    Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the prolific scorer will play tonight for the Bolts, as they continue the preseason against the Nashville Predators.

    Stamkos suffered a knee injury last November. He underwent surgery but didn’t make it back to the lineup for the remainder of the year, marking the second time in four years his regular season was derailed by a significant injury.

    “Listen, I snapped my leg in half and came back and was playing the best hockey of my career,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to his broken leg suffered during the 2013-14 season.

    “So this is another hurdle. I’m confident that when you put in the work, you’re going to find ways. It may be different ways. You may have to adjust certain parts of your game. But we’ll handle that when I see how it feels in a game situation. We’ll know more tonight.”

    Given such a lengthy time away from game action, it might be wise — at least early on — to temper expectations of Stamkos.

    He is one of the league’s most dangerous scorers. But he also hasn’t played a game in 10 months. In a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, who had the same surgery in 2010, said it “took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal.”

    It appears Stamkos will center a line tonight with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who should certainly be pleased to be playing alongside No. 91.

    Habs place Redmond on waivers — again

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    A number of players found themselves on waivers Friday, including Montreal depth defenseman Zach Redmond.

    (CapFriendly has an extensive list of players on waivers, which you can check out here.)

    Redmond is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Habs, who already had a crowded blue line with eight defensemen signed for this season and Jakub Jerabek making the move from the KHL and looking to earn a roster spot out of camp.

    Noah Juulsen was also a prospect defenseman to watch in camp, however, he recently suffered a fractured foot and is out six weeks.

    Redmond, who was previously placed on waivers in January, split last season between Montreal and the Habs’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s, where he had 18 points in 26 games.

    Now 29 years old, Redmond has 130 games worth of NHL experience with Winnipeg, Colorado and Montreal.

    Report: Oilers and potential UFA Maroon talking extension

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    The Edmonton Oilers and forward Patrick Maroon are reportedly discussing an extension, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.

    Maroon spent a good chunk of the season playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it showed in his numbers.

    The 29-year-old scored a career-high 27 goals (he had never scored more than 11 goals in a season) and 42 points in 81 contests.

    Maroon is in the final year of a three-year contract that came with an annual average value of $2 million. You’d have to think that he’s in line for a raise.

    “Obviously without those two I wouldn’t have the success I did, but sometimes you’ve got to give yourself some credit too,” Maroon said earlier this month, per NHL.com. “Those two are very tremendous players, and for me I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing to stay with them.

    “Obviously [Oilers coach] Todd McLellan had a really big part in that. He gave me an opportunity to play with those two. For me, I’ve just got to continue what I did last year, come [to training camp] in really good shape again, and hopefully good things fall into place again.”