Let the talks heat up again as Ryan Miller is, apparently, back on the trading blocks. Eklund first reported that talks between the Sabres and Avalanche involving Ryan Miller were heating up once again as training camp quickly approaches. Then another outlet reported the same thing that Miller talks in Colorado were beginning to brew. Then, Garth told us yesterday that a trade with Ryan Miller will not happen yet. So, is a Ryan Miller deal possible before September 12th?
Mike Kiszla from the Denver Post wants Miller, and believes that he is what the Avs need to get over the preverbal "hump". Kiszla, along with everyone else, believe that it will be a Ryan Miller for Paul Stastny swap. Stastny has been a staple to the Avalanche offense for years, but it seems his time in Colorado is coming to an end. The 27-year old American center is being run out of the Mile High City by Matt Duchene (22 years old), Ryan O'Reilly (22 years old), Gabriel Landeskog (20 years old), and birthday boy Nathan MacKinnon (18 years old today). The youth in Colorado is going to make it challenging for Paul Stastny to fit in. If Stastny remains on the team, Partick Roy would have to move someone like O'Reilly to the wing so Stastny can fit in. Even that, Stastny would still be the 3rd or 4th line center.
Let's say that the deal happens and he comes to Buffalo. What happens then? This is what the forwards could look like:
I think that Stastny could be the number one center the Sabres have been looking for. Yes, it takes away from Cody Hodgson getting the chance to be the number one guy, but Stastny may not be back next year. Stastny is in the last year of his deal that is playing him $6.6 million a year. This year would be a try-out season for Stastny with the Sabres. If he lives up to expectations, Stastny could be re-signed by the Sabres, but not for $6.6 million a year. Last year with the Avs, Stastny registered 24 points (9+15) in 40 games. Stastny's best season came in 2009-10 with Colorado scoring 20 goals and adding 59 helpers. Stastny has been known to be an injury bug, but when healthy, I believe he could be the piece that helps Thomas Vanek become the 40 goal scorer that he once was. Stastny is a great set-up guy, and could definitely help put the puck where Vanek needs the puck to be. Stastny could also be playing in the Sochi 2014 Olympic games for Team USA with Ryan Miller. They were teammates in Vancouver for the Olympics in 2010.
If Ryan Miller is shipped to Colorado, Miller is obviously going to be the starting goaltender for Patrick Roy's squad. He would bring stability in the net, but he would not have a defense to help him out much. Colorado's defense is anchored by Erik Johnson, and have veterans like Cory Sarich and Jan Hedja. But, Miller was able to carry the Sabres throughout the years, and I figure he'd be able to do the same in Denver.
So what does this mean for Semyon Varlamov? Well, it's simple, he would be booted to a backup roll. Will Varlamov accept being a backup or will he demand to be traded? I can see Varlamov being unhappy with the situation and wanting out of Denver if he is not getting time in net. For Varlamov, his stats last season were not good. He was 11-21-3 last season with a 3.02 GAA and a 0.903 save percentage. Yuck. If Varlamov wants to be the starter, he has to prove he is worthy of it, and I don't believe he has done so yet. If Varlamov wants to stay as the backup, then the Avs need to make a move with J.S. Giguere and ship him to a team that needs a veteran backup.
So how could the trade pan out? Buffalo would trade Ryan Miller, and maybe a defenseman like Brayden McNabb to Colorado for Paul Stastny, and a forward like 22-year old, Andrew Agozzino or 21 year old, Mike Sgarbossa. With Colorado's AHL affiliate, Lake Erie Monsters, Agozzino registered 52 points (20+32) in 76 games, which led the club. In 57 games, Sgarbossa had 19 goals and 25 assists, and earned some time the NHL with the Avalanche. However, he did not register a point in six games with the Avs. Brayden McNabb would help out the depleted defensive core in Colorado, and could possibly make the roster as a starter.
Do I believe that the trade will happen? At this point, who knows. The winds of trade with Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek have been calm and gusty at times, but still no moves have been made. I could see Ryan Miller getting traded before training camp starts, but it would have to happen within the next week. Vanek will remain a Sabre until the trade deadline, that is if they decide to trade him. Paul Stastny will also probably be moved by the deadline, if not beforehand. Stastny may not end up in Buffalo, but he will find a new home eventually. It's September, and we're one month away from the start of regular season hockey! How crazy is September going to be for Buffalo? Let's just sit back, crack open a beer, and watch and wait.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @BraytonJWilson and leave questions or comments below. My goaltender evaluation will be coming soon, but I will probably wait for a definitive answer to the Ryan Miller rumors.
As always, thanks for reading!