Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres

Sabres’ Miller has plenty of incentive heading into next season


Three is a crowd, and the Buffalo Sabres’ crease remains awfully crowded as the summer continues. But as it seems right now, though, Ryan Miller is still The Guy.

Right now, at least.

The Sabres are coming upon a pivotal stage with their organization, especially with the enigmatic Miller entering the final year of his contract and the subject of trade talk that has gone otherwise silent in the last few weeks.

But there is plenty of incentive for the 33-year-old Miller, who had a record of 17-17-5, a goals-against average of 2.81 and save percentage of .915 last season, to put together as good a season as he possibly can.

First and foremost is what happened to him and the Sabres last season.

Not only did the club fail to make the playoffs, but Miller was constantly making headlines for either calling out teammates or what turned into a sometimes tumultuous relationship with the Buffalo fan base.

He was America’s starting goaltender at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, when an underdog U.S. team took Canada to overtime in the gold medal game.

A strong showing this season and he could regain the starting duties when the U.S. opens up it’s schedule in the men’s ice hockey competition in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.

Also, he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season, when his current five-year deal worth $31.25 million expires.

The motivation should be there. He carried the U.S. to within one goal of a gold medal in 2010 and may only get one more chance to go between the pipes for his country on the Olympic stage.

And, if that’s not enough, playing to a level he’s shown capable of in the past may not only go a long way in smoothing over any wayward relationships, but could make the Sabres a dark horse in the newly aligned Atlantic Division.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.