The 2011-12 season has come with a fair share of ups and downs for Ryan Miller. He came out of the gates with numerous brilliant showings and looked poised to have a strong year. However, a few rough outings at home – capped by an early hook against the Flyers – turned things sour for the Sabres’ franchise goalie.
Just when he was working his way back to form he was sidelined with a concussion and neck issues following his collision with Milan Lucic. That was followed by a new trade rumor that has been pumped by Jim Matheson at the Edmonton Journal. Eric at 3rd Man In covered this when the story broke and he did a bang up job with it, no reason to re-hash any of his work.
The story here seems to be centered around two things; did Miller ask for a trade or is he simply open to a new situation? Because I haven’t specifically asked Carrie Underwood to divorce Mike Fisher to get together with me, I just wouldn’t mind if that happened. See what I did there? That is obviously apples and oranges, but the foundation is the same. There is a big difference between demanding a trade and being open to exploring elsewhere.
Like Eric said, you can’t ignore this rumor. Matheson is always on top of things and is far more reliable than, say, Eklund. You also can’t deny that finding his way to a new city could be helpful. Outside of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, Miller wouldn’t be under the scrutiny that so many fans place him under. It is shocking that every goal that beats Miller is the weakest goal ever scored.
What needs to be explored regarding a potential trade regarding Miller is the potential destination and the return the Sabres would receive. Now, Matheson only beats the drum on Miller heading to California to be closer to his wife. He gives no mention to any other suitors. While all three California teams have legitimate starting goaltenders, it would be safe to assume they may be open to upgrading depending on the price. It goes back to the “no player is untouchable” mantra, if you can offer the right pieces you can get any player in the NHL (except Sidney Crosby).
If the Sabres were to seriously consider trading Miller they would need to get a major return for their trouble. Obviously a first round pick or a major prospect would be in transit, but the big need (at least right now) for the Sabres would be a true #1 center or a top-flight defender. That is where things get hairy. It is easy to send a superstar to another team for a package of picks and prospects, it is an entirely different monster to try to go player-for-player with this type of trade. That is what makes this seem so unlikely.
The Sabres want to win now, they are no longer in the position where they need to build for one or two runs. Considering that, they will not be looking to get a package of players that will help them in three years. The Sabres will want that number one center or franchise defenseman. Is there a team out there willing to give up that kind of talent? I probably lean towards no. There are more whispers from Calgary that Jarome Iginla could be shipped. He isn’t a center, but he is Jarome freakin’ Iginla. Would Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff look good in Buffalo? Sure. Is that a likely trade? Not in a million years. But that is the type of ground you would be treading on when discussing a trade of Ryan Miller. It is going to revolve around unrealistic options and completely ridiculous trade packages – the kind you see on HF Boards.