In the wake of today’s massive upheaval in Buffalo, one of the team’s most important players saw an opportunity arise.
“Hopefully this is a chance for the Sabres as an organization to kind of reset,” goalie Ryan Miller told the team website. “We have plenty of hockey left.”
Miller, who has easily been Buffalo’s best player this season, now finds himself in curious spot. With all indications suggesting he won’t re-sign with the Sabres, speculation suggest he’ll be made available via trade — but trade scenarios got cloudier after GM Darcy Regier was let go and no immediate successor was named.
Pat LaFontaine, the new president of hockey operations, said the search for a new GM is already underway and that he’s got a shortlist of candidates. At this point, it seems highly unlikely that any hire would compel Miller to stay in Buffalo… meaning the immediate topic of interest is how he’ll mesh with new head coach Ted Nolan.
Assuming the Sabres won’t make the playoffs — a safe one, to be sure — handling Miller will come down to a few things: Olympic preparation, showcasing for a possible trade and weighing the development of Jhonas Enroth.
Miller has played well enough to challenge for Team USA’s No. 1 gig in Sochi and, depending on the severity of Jonathan Quick’s injury, could end up being the clear-cut starter.
Showcasing Miller probably won’t be a major issue. Miller’s a known commodity throughout the league and this year’s bounce-back effort from an average ’13 season has raised his stock. The only time it might come up is closer to the deadline, or if he needs to play his way out of prolonged slump.
The Enroth situation will be interesting. He has one year left on his deal and, assuming Miller won’t be back, has a good shot of heading into 2014-15 as Buffalo’s No. 1. It sounds as though prospect Matt Hackett is still a bit away from challenging for an NHL starting gig, so it is possible the Sabres will look to play Enroth more as the season progresses.