Did you know Sabres General Manager Tim Murray and the rest of his fellow NHL GM's face two trade deadines this season?
Thanks to the quadrennial league shutdown for Olympic participation, a trade freeze will take effect on February 7th at 3pm Eastern. It will stay in effect through the 23rd. GM's will then have 10 days to make any deals before the season deadline on March 5th at 3pm Eastern.
Murray's biggest decision will of course be the future of Ryan Miller, the winningest goalie in franchise history.
If he decides to trade Miller, Murray's biggest challenge might be finding a trade partner. There aren't many teams looking for a number one goalie who ostensibly could be a rental player since Miller will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The most popular team that comes up in the discussion of possible landing spots for Miller is St. Louis, where the Blues have a pair of goalies headed for free agency in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. You might look at the Blues goals against average of 2.18, which is third best in the NHL, and say they don't need to make a move for a goalie but there are concerns about the pair when it comes to the playoffs.
In the last two post seasons, Elliott has been the goalie of choice for the Blues. Two years ago, the 28 year old was between the pipes for their first round victory over San Jose but he was 0-4 when they were eliminated by Los Angeles in round two. Last season Elliott was again the number one guy when the Blues were bounced in six games by the Kings in the opening round. In Elliott's playoff career, he is 6-10 with a 2.55 goals against average and a sub par save percentage of .898.
Halak has more post season experience, almost all of it coming in Montreal. In the 2010 playoffs, he helped the Canadiens advance all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before they were ousted by Philadelphia. Halak is 10-11 in his playoff career with a 2.42 goals against and an impressive .923 save percentage. But he's been second fiddle to Elliott in St Louis, appearing in just two playoff games for the Blues.
While both Halak and Elliott have a sub .500 playoff record, Miller is 25-22. His post season career goals against is 2.47 which is right in the middle between Halak and Elliott. Miller's save percentage in the 47 playoff games is .917.
But it can be pointed out Miller hasn't won a playoff series since the second round in 2007. In the last three Stanley Cup series with Ottawa in 2007, Boston in 2010 and Philadelphia in 2011, Miller has gone 6-12. Miller has been in goal in eight playoff series with the Sabres and they've won four and lost four.
If the Blues are interested in trading for a goalie, Murray and the Sabres might have some competition. TSN is reporting the Hurricanes would move Cam Ward for the right price. The Florida Panthers could deal Tim Thomas and there have been reports that Anaheim would make Jonas Hiller available but that was strongly denied by Ducks GM Bob Murray. The Blues would also have to shed some payroll to acquire Miller who has a cap number of $6.25 million. St. Louis has a little over $3.3 million in cap space according toCapgeek.com.