Ryan Miller has been the franchise goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres since the 2005-06 season. He has become the winningest goaltender in franchise history, and has played 495 games as a Buffalo Sabre. His name has been the talk of the town for numerous reasons in recent years, but this year it is has not been will Miller be traded, it is when will he be traded.
This season has only been a disaster for the Buffalo Sabres. After a 3-15-1 start, the region is calling for change. The fans want GM Darcy Regier out, coach Ron Rolston out, and the team completely remolded. However, the Sabres, somehow, have been competitive but mainly due to goaltending.
In the 19 games played this season, Miller has started 13 of them. His stats may not say much (3.40 GAA and .912 save-percentage), but Miller has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL this year. Miller has faced 490 shots this season, stopping 447 of them with his underachieving defense ahead of him. Miller is also trying to earn a roster spot on Team USA for the Olympics in Sochi. He will be contending for the spot of starting goaltender with the guy in the Kings net tonight, Jonathan Quick.
In years past, fans have been saying "Darcy should trade Ryan Miller" because of some soft goals and disappointing performances. This year, the fans are saying "Darcy should trade Ryan Miller" for two reasons. The first is to continue their "rebuild" and acquire some young assets for the future. The second is to try and send Miller to a contending team to give Miller a chance to win the Stanley Cup. For one team, Miller could just be a rental and will let him hit the open market once he hits free agency. For another team, he could be their future net minder for years to come.
Ryan Miller does have a no-trade clause that restricts the Sabres from trading Miller to eight teams that Miller does not want to go to. There were rumors that Buffalo was looking to trade Miller to Edmonton, but it was shot down when Edmonton was one of the teams on the NTC list. It has also been thought that Ryan Miller does not want to go to any Canadian hockey team. If Miller will not go to a Canadian team, then that is seven of eight teams he will not accept a trade to. The only team we know of now though is Edmonton.
Buffalo has already traded one of their top talent players in Thomas Vanek. So now, when is it Ryan Miller's turn?
Ryan Miller should be traded as soon as possible. Will it be Darcy Regier making the trade? It should be. Ryan Miller should be the last job for Darcy Regier before he is let go from the franchise. But Miller is going to be of some value to a contending team, and if he goes to a team that needs long-term goaltending help, his value will be higher.
With his style of goaltending, Ryan Miller could last ten more years in the NHL. Whoever wants to acquire Ryan Miller may look to resign him once the season is over. Who needs long-term goaltending help that is a contending team this season? Here's the list of NHL teams with their goaltending depth and if they need help:
Anaheim: Hiller, Fasth, Andersen Maybe
Boston: Rask, C. Johnson, M. Subban No
Calgary: Ramo, Berra, MacDonald Yes
Carolina: Ward, Khudobin, Peters Maybe
Chicago: Crawford, Khabibulin, Raanta No
Colorado: Varlamov, Giguere, Pickard Maybe
Columbus: Bobrovsky, McElhinney, J. Smith Maybe
Dallas: Lehtonen, Ellis, Nihlstrop Maybe
Detroit: Howard, Gustafsson, McCollum No
Edmonton: Dubnyk, Labarbera, Bryzgalov Yes
Florida: Thomas, Clemmensen, Markstrom Yes
Los Angeles: Quick, Scrivens, M. Jones No
Minnesota: Backstrom, Harding, Kuemper Maybe
Montreal: Price, Budaj, Tokarski No
Nashville: Rinne*, Hutton, Mazanec, Hellberg Yes
New Jersey: Brodeur, Schneider, Kinkaid No
New York Islanders: Nabakov, Poulin, Nilsson Yes
New York Rangers: Lundqvist, Talbot, Missiaen No(t yet)
Ottawa: Anderson, Lehner, Lawson No
Philadelphia: Mason, Emery, Danis, Heeter Yes
Phoenix: M. Smith, Greiss, Visentin No
Pittsburgh: Fleury, Vokoun*, Zatkoff, Deslauriers Maybe
St. Louis: Halak, Elliott, Allen Maybe
San Jose: Niemi, Stalock, Grosenick Maybe
Tampa Bay: Bishop, Lindback, Desjardins Yes
Toronto: Reimer, Bernier, MacIntyre No
Vancouver: Luongo, Lack, Corrado No
Washington: Holtby, Neuvirth, Grubauer Maybe
Winnipeg: Pavelec, Montoya, Pasquale Maybe
It has been said that there is no market for goaltenders right now, and it is true. A market will open for Ryan Miller, but that will not be known for some time. Ryan Miller's best options for a contending team that needs goaltending help are Anaheim, Colorado, the Islanders, St. Louis, and San Jose. But there is a ton of factors that will need to happen for a trade to happen like injury or another trade to make room for Miller. Nashville may need help with Pekka Rinne's status under some question.
Even though Ryan Miller has been scrutinized over the years, he is still a beloved figure in Buffalo. He will be considered as one of the top two greatest goaltenders in Sabres franchise history when he leaves. The clock is ticking ever so slowly for Ryan Miller, and he probably knows his time is winding down as a Sabre. Tick tock... Tick Tock... Tick Tock...