It may not look like it from that video, but Ryan Miller is a pretty good goaltender. He’s a former 41-game winner and has led his team to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, losing both times. In a year wear he posted a .926 SV% and a 2.22 GAA, Miller won a Vezina trophy in 2009-2010 as well as a silver medal at the Olympics where he was named tournament MVP and American Hero.
It’s pretty much been downhill from there. In three seasons since winning the Vezina, Miller has yet to finish a year with a SV% higher than .916 and his GAA has been on the wrong side of 2.59. Granted, the Buffalo Sabres team in front of him has been mismanaged and has gained in crapiness every season since 2010 as well, but there’s no denying Millers game could use some spark.
Miller is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next year and having to weigh factors like his team being bad, he ain’t gettin’ any younger, and his super-hot wife living in LA, odds are he’s not signing in Buffalo. Plus the front office knows that he could bring a roster player and a draft pick in a trade. If you’re privy to the blogosphere (and I know you are) then you have likely heard all kinds of
rumors about R-Mill and what weirdos on the internet think will happen with him. Here at T-bone and the Hockey Doggz, I, T-bone, love myself a heapin’ helpin’ of outsider speculation based solely on an idea that come to me while washing my butt and research conducted on the internet. So what ideas do I have about the Miller saga? Glad you asked!
The first question I asked myself was “Where’s the beer?” so I went to the fridge and exclaimed “Eureka!” and cracked open a cold one. Gimme a “Hell Yeah!”.
Then I asked, “Welp, what team is in contention but would benefit from adding an average goalie who has potential to be great and has playoff experience?” There have been rumors that the Edmonton Oilers have been in trade talks with the Sabres, but it is likely that Edmonton is on his list of teams he’s not tryin’ to get traded to and it is unlikely he would waive his no trade clause to go there. Plus, why would Edmonton give up on Nail Yakupov less than halfway through his first full season? C’mon!
For my money, a team that could use Miller’s experience and skills the most is the New York Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov is cool, don’t get me wrong, but in the playoffs last season (and pretty much every post-season), his numbers were pretty terrible: .842 SV% and 4.44 GAA. Granted he was playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins who have two of the most talented and gifted active players, but if Nabby could have out played Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (which wouldn’t have been too hard) it would have been the Islanders against the Senators in the second round instead of the Penguins. Nabokov is old and not that great. Kevin Poulin is young and untested. The Islanders have a lot of talent up front that could be moved for a solid net minder. According to capgeek they have about 14 million in cap space which is plenty to handle Miller’s 6.25 Million cap hit. Plus, if Garth snow really wants to shake things up, he could try to wrangle the other hot soon-to-be-UFA Tomas Vanek as well. If the Isles were able to trade for these two, it would add leadership and most of all playoff experience which, as they move to the next phase of their development, would be good to have.
But who would the Islanders be willing to move to get power couple Miller and/or Vanek? My guess would be Kyle Okposo. He’s kind of the 5th wheel when it comes to scoring for the Islanders behind Tavares, Moulson, Grabner, and Frans Nielson. Plus with the addition of Cal Clutterbuck this past offseason, whatever Okposo brought physically has been covered and then some by the hit-happy Clutterbuck. Throw in a couple of draft picks and maybe a prospect in their system, Vanek could be there’s too.
It’s possible that the cunning GM-itude of Garth Snow has another grand plan that does not involve Ryan Miller or Tomas Vanek. To that I would say, “That’s why you get paid the big bucks”. Maybe Miller’s not good enough to justify trading away a young player and replacing Evgeni Nabokov. But a move like this would make a lot of sense I think looking to get more competitive and go deeper into the playoffs. Although, Ilya Bryzgalov is still available!