Thomas Vanek is gone. Ryan Miller should be the next out Buffalo’s door. And soon.
Here’s why Sabres general manager Darcy Regier would be wise to trade his 33-year-old star goalie ASAP:
—- Despite a 1-9-0 record, Miller actually has pretty good numbers (.914 SV%). That’s something Regier can sell to other GMs. In fact, no goalie in the entire NHL has made more saves (328) than Miller has in 2013-14. (Buffalo gives up a ton of shots, if you haven’t noticed.) Regier may want to take advantage of Miller’s numbers now, while they’re still respectable, because there’s a chance they may not be for long, and that would obviously make it harder to get good value in a deal.
—- Teams that aren’t getting good goaltending (like, say, Edmonton) could be all but eliminated from playoff contention by March 5, the NHL’s trade deadline. Miller is a pending unrestricted free agent. If he’s traded as a rental (i.e. without a contract extension in place) like Vanek was, there should theoretically be more potential destinations now, when teams still have hope of making a comeback, than later, when hope has been extinguished.
—- Miller isn’t the only goalie that’s the subject of trade speculation. For example, Anaheim may end up moving Jonas Hiller. Similar to the point made above, Regier doesn’t want to be left trying to trade an asset nobody needs anymore. Ask the Vancouver Canucks how holding out for a better offer worked for them in the case of Roberto Luongo. Very different contract situations, obviously. But the point remains. The goalie market is a unique one. It can dry up real fast.
—- If Miller’s not going to re-sign with the Sabres (and you never know, but it really doesn’t look that way), why wait to sever the relationship? At some point, a new leadership group will need to emerge in Buffalo, and 25-year-old Jhonas Enroth has played well enough to take over starting duties for the rest of the season. With all the talk and speculation, the Miller situation is a big distraction for a team that needs far fewer of those.