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Trading Ryan Miller: Who will be looking to buy?

April 15, 2013

This will serve as the second portion to a post that I put up last week on the prospects of trading Ryan Miller

After exploring which teams may or may not make Ryan Miller’s no-trade list, I wanted to take things a step further and determine which teams may serve as suitors for the netminder. By doing so I wanted to determine which teams would have little interest in him as well.

As is well-known, Miller’s no-trade clause allows him to veto a trade to eight different teams. This may end up being a list that significantly handcuffs Darcy Regier but it could also serve as a list that does indeed limit options, but doesn’t prevent Regeir from effectively doing his job.

I decided to include the 11 different teams which Miller may veto a trade to on this list. I wanted to provide a comprehensive collection of the direction I’d assume each NHL club to take if approached about Ryan Miller.

Count the Rangers (Lundqvist) and Penguins (MAF) in a group of teams who would not provide themselves with a significant upgrade in acquiring Miller. Boston (Rask), Nashville (Rinne), Los Angeles (Quick), Vancouver (Schneider), Montreal (Price) and Detroit (Howard) are also on this list. Each of those seven teams have determined their goaltender of the future (and present) and wouldn’t provide their team with any sort of significant upgrade by bringing Miller into the fold.

There is another large group of teams who have a solid netminder and fall in the middle of the road when I consider potential suitors. They probably all lean closer to a no than a yes and here’s why:

Ottawa Senators: Craig Anderson is having a dazzling season and has shown in the past that he is a phenomenal talent. He may not have the juice to be a league leader every year, but he is certainly showing Ottawa that he’s worth keeping around. Add in phenom Robin Lehner and the Sens appear to be set.

Florida Panthers: One of the teams that appeared on my no-trade list, the Panthers may not mind missing out on Miller. Jacob Markstrom is another Swedish phenom just like Lehner. Both appear to be the heir apparent to their respective creases and their clubs probably won’t want to mess with that further.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts are teetering on the fence for me. They just paid a pretty penny for Ben Bishop and then extended the big man for two more years. In addition to Anders Lindback, Tampa doesn’t have a glaring need for a franchise netminder. While Miller would certainly serve as an upgrade, I’m not sure Steve Yzerman would still be in the market for him. Of note, the Bolts could also end up on Miller’s no-trade list.

Dallas Stars: The third no-trade potential member appears here. The Stars not only have Kari Lehtonen and his wonky groin muscles, they also have American Hero Jack Campbell waiting in the wings. While having another American Hero tutor the young netminder, I’m not sure Miller would fit into the plans in Big D.

Carolina Hurricanes: Cam Ward has the hardware that may point to him being an elite netminder, but his injury woes and up-and-down performances have been a factor in keeping Carolina out of the playoffs recently. While Miller could serve as an upgrade for the Canes, I’m not sure that is the direction they want to take. Pencil them in as a team who will have hesitant interest.

Minnesota Wild: Plop the Wild right next to the Canes. They have a steady veteran who can perform at a high level. However, Niklas Backstrom is a pending UFA and I don’t know if Darcy Kuemper is ready for a starting role. Miller would be a great stop gap for an up-and-coming competitor in the Wild. His salary could be prohibitive, but I won’t rule them out. Like Carolina, assume Minnesota will at least kick the tires.

I also consider that Washington (Holtby), Edmonton (Dubnyk), Winnipeg (Pavelec), San Jose (Niemi) and even Anaheim (Hiller and Fasth) seem to be pleased with their goaltending options. Count those four in the group with Tampa and Dallas of teams that would kick the tires but probably only have a passing interest in acquiring Buffalo’s netminder based on owning a steady option in goal.

Here’s a look at who is left:

Phoenix Coyotes: If Mike Smith re-signs this is a moot point. However, with Smith looking for bigger money, the Coyotes may not be able to foot the bill. Obviously Miller’s cap hit may serve to be restrictive but he would serve as a wonderful replacement on a defensive team. Not to mention he probably ups the curb appeal to potential buyers (Coytoes are a no-trade list possibility for me).

Colorado Avalanche: Along with the Columbus Blue Jackets are a team(s) that snagged an up-and-coming Russian netminder in consecutive offseasons. Both Semeyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky have played well (especially Bobrovsky) but each team would be vastly improved with Miller in the cage. Subsequently, each of these teams are no-trade options in my opinion.

Chicago Blackhawks: The Hawks have been a popular destination for Miller rumors. Corey Crawford is having a great year but hasn’t proven to many that he can extend this over the long haul. Miller would add another star to an already star-studded cast. The Hawks have the pieces to give up and the assumed need. The question is; have Crawford and Emery done enough to erase the need for a cornerstone goalie?

Toronto Maple Leafs: Aside from the obvious issue of trading Miller up the QEW, the Leafs seem to be growing happy with James Reimer. They also may be looking to maintain a tandem over a traditional one-two set up. They may ask about Miller, but despite their need I doubt they show much interest.

Philadelphia Flyers: Just like sending Miller to the Leafs would be out of the question, count the Flyers in the same group. They’re still searching for a goalie and Miller could certainly be the guy. Whether or not that trade ever materializes in anyone’s guess.

New Jersey Devils: New Jersey is just about dead in the water once Brodeur retires. Perhaps they will chase Miller in the summer of 2014, but if Marty is back next year a trade is out of the question. They’re an option, but not if Marty sticks around. This could be realistic but it’s contingent on what #30 does.

St. Louis Blues: Jake Allen is proving to be a very real option for the future. Add him to Jaro Halak and Brian Elliot and there is a goaltending problem in St. Louis. Adding another high priced name to the list won’t solve anything. However, if one of the three is bought out this summer they may have interest in a big name for a Cup run next year. Besides, Allen may need one or two more years of seasoning before he can take over full time. The Blues are a possible destination if, and only if, they buy out one guy and the Sabres accept another in the trade. This is a maybe. A big maybe.

New York Islanders: The Isles are getting phenomenal goaltending from Evgeni Nabakov who happens to be a pending unrestricted free agent. He also happens to be kind of old. I think there is a real possibility that he re-signs, but he may walk if he asks for too much. If the Isles don’t end up on Miller’s no-trade list, I love them as a trade option. This is contingent on Nabokov not getting a deal, but they may be the most realistic option of the 30 NHL clubs.

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