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Ryan Miller: Should Sabres keep or move him?

by Adam Kimelman

In 2009-10, there was no better goalie in the NHL than Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. He won a career-best 41 games, was second in the League in goals-against average and save percentage and took home the Vezina Trophy months after helping the United States win the silver medal at the 2010 Olympics.

However, Miller's fortunes since then haven't been so positive. The Sabres lost in the first round of the 2010 and 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and missed the 2012 postseason while Miller dealt with concussion and whiplash issues. This season, the Sabres are mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Miller's numbers look bad, but on many nights he's been the team's best player, and at just 32 Miller is far from being too old. In fact, there's no reason to think he couldn't return to being a Vezina candidate again.

But will it happen with the Sabres? takes examines the pros and cons to the Sabres making Miller available to move at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline:


Position: Goalie

Age: 32

Statistics: 26 games, 9-13-4, 2.96 goals-against average, .909 save percentage

Salary status: After this season, Miller will have one year left on his contract, with a salary-cap hit of $6.25 million

Keep him: Despite his poor win/loss record, Miller remains a top-tier goaltender. Despite being fourth in the League in games played, he's seen 814 shots -- 56 more than any other goalie after the games on Tuesday night. And his 740 saves were 53 more than any other goalie. So while Miller has been the busiest goalie in the League by far, the fact that he's kept his GAA below 3.00 and his save percentage above .900 speaks volumes about his ability. With the exception of Thomas Vanek, most of the players in the Sabres' core group are having down seasons -- Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville and Tyler Myers. However, much like the Montreal Canadiens this season, the parts are in place for a quick turnaround. Having a franchise goalie like Miller in place is vital for a rapid climb back up the standings.

Move him: With the Sabres unlikely to make the playoffs, the dismissal of long-time coach Lindy Ruff and with a core group that has won just five playoff games the last three years, it could be time for general manager Darcy Regier to go into a full-scale rebuilding mode. If that's the path he chooses, the player who could bring the biggest return in prospects and players is Miller. The Detroit Red Wings could be a possibility -- Miller is a Michigan native. As could a West Coast team like the San Jose Sharks or Anaheim Ducks -- Miller's wife is an actress based in Los Angeles. There could be other teams that show interest as well. Another reason to move Miller now is the fact that next season will be the final one on his contract. If Miller doesn't want to be part of the Sabres' rebuilding effort, they'll have to move him rather than risk losing him for nothing in the summer of 2014.


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