The St. Louis Blues on Friday acquired goaltender Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres in a trade for goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, forward prospect William Carrier, a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and a conditional draft pick.
The Sabres say they will receive the Blues' first-round pick in 2014 if St. Louis advances to the Western Conference Final or if Miller re-signs with his new team.
GAA: 2.72 | SVP: 0.923
"The thought of getting the grit and determination of player like Steve Ott, and obviously Ryan Miller's resume speaks for itself, we think this gives us a better opportunity for success this year," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said during a media conference call.
Miller, 33, was the subject of trade rumors since prior to the season because he can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He played all 540 of his NHL games for the Sabres, establishing a franchise record for the team that selected him in the fifth round (No. 138) of the 1999 NHL Draft. He made his debut on Nov. 19, 2002.
SOG: 99 | +/-: -26
Miller was 15-22-3 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .923 save percentage this season with the last-place Sabres. He is 284-186-57, with a 2.60 GAA and .916 save percentage in his career. He was 25-22 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2006, where the Sabres lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.
Now he's going to a team that's leading the Central Division and is among the contenders to win the Stanley Cup.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity to have a new adventure, a new opportunity," Miller said. "I have a strong sense that they have a special team, that they work hard. I know some of the guys on the team with the USA [Olympic] program, and they have a very strong competitive spirit."
Ott, the Sabres captain, was in his second season with Buffalo after being traded by the Dallas Stars. The 31-year-old pending unrestricted free agent has nine goals and 11 assists in 59 games this season.
"I'm very thankful for the opportunity in my short time here with the Sabres," Ott said. "Now I'm off to a new adventure. I'm going to miss the teammates I've gotten to know in this dressing room the last little while, and the coaching staff as well."
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Blues captain David Backes said he was excited by the trade but warned that the deal didn't guarantee anything.
"From a hockey standpoint, the management and ownership is really committed to winning and winning now," he said after the Blues' 1-0 road loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. "I think that’s partly shown in the move that we made. Ryan Miller’s an all-world goalie that has shown it time and time again. I have seen that in a couple of Olympics where he’s as good as anyone in the business.
"But I think the guys that are in here can’t think that they’re a magical solution and all of a sudden things are going to get easy for everyone because winning in this League is tough."
Halak, 28, was 24-9-4 with a 2.23 GAA and .917 save percentage for the Blues this season. He also can be an unrestricted free agent.
Stewart, 26, has 15 goals and 26 points in 58 games. He is under contract through 2014-15.
Carrier, a 19-year-old left wing, was the 57th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
"We were extremely happy with the deal," Sabres GM Tim Murray said. "If you’re happy with it, make it."
The Sabres could have three first-round picks in 2015, which is regarded as a very deep draft class. They have their own pick, the one they received from the Blues, and could end up with the New York Islanders' pick; the Islanders owe Buffalo their first-round choice in 2014 but can defer the pick for a year if it's among the top 10.
Murray, who confirmed that the Sabres retained a portion of Miller's salary in the trade. also said he might not be finished dealing.
“I've said all along that I'm just going to be in the wake of the GMs that want out players,” Murray said. “If they feel that we have a missing piece to their puzzle then we're going to be involved.”