Goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the Buffalo Sabres remains a hot topic in the NHL rumor mill.
Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News reported Miller’s performance has made him an asset for the Sabres, as well as a valuable trade chip. Interim coach Ted Nolan called the 33-year-old netminder the type of player around which to rebuild.
Late last week Miller had a brief “exploratory” meeting with Pat LaFontaine, the Sabres new president of hockey operations. Though Miller’s heard the Sabres could accelerate their rebuild, he said he won’t be swayed by talk, preferring to see actual results.
Re-signing Miller would be costly for the Sabres. He believes the new seven-year, $59.5-million contract Henrik Lundqvist recently signed with the New York Rangers “sets the standard” for NHL goaltenders. Given Miller’s age, the Sabres could balk if he seeks a comparable deal.
If the Sabres trade Miller, the move could happen close to the March 5 trade deadline. Thanks to the high number of teams (23) with limited cap space, there’s not much of a market right now. Read more
Several NHL teams with unrestricted free agent stars are looking forward to next week’s NHL Board of Governors meeting, when they’ll get what ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun called a “clearer projection for where the salary cap might stand for next season”.
It’s predicted the cap will rise to $67 to $70 million for 2014-15. The higher it rises, the more cap space for clubs with multiple stars to re-sign.
The San Jose Sharks are among those teams. LeBrun claimed they’ve had “ongoing discussions” with center Joe Thornton, winger Patrick Marleau and defenseman Dan Boyle, all slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. The trio want to re-sign and the Sharks hope to keep them, but cap space will be a crucial factor in those negotiations.
The Buffalo Sabres’ new regime, led by president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine and coach Ted Nolan, has vowed to make their young players earn their way to the NHL. Instead of letting their teenage first-round picks get their tails kicked in The Show and learn how to lose, they want want the kids learning how to win at a lower level.
That’s why hulking defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16th overall in 2013) was returned to the London Knights and blueliner Rasmus Ristolainen (eighth overall in 2013) went to Rochester of the American League.
Zadorov, who reminded me of a young Zdeno Chara when I saw him live last year, gets to play big games at the 2014 Memorial Cup, which London will host. In Rochester, Ristolainen can at least be part of a playoff push and will cut his teeth alongside other high-end Buffalo prospects like Johan Larsson, Joel Armia and Matt Hackett, health permitting.
But Mikhail Grigorenko was the conundrum. The offensively gifted pivot, 19, had nothing left to prove in junior as a man among boys averaging almost a goal per game last season with the Quebec Remparts. And the NHL blocked the Sabres’ attempt to send him to Rochester on a conditioning stint, as the AHL’s agreement with the Canadian Hockey League states that major junior prospects must have played four full seasons or be 20 years old to play in the AHL.
The Nashville Predators are awaiting an update this week on the status of goaltender Pekka Rinne, who’s been sidelined for several weeks with a bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip. His condition has fuelled speculation the Predators are shopping for help between the pipes.
Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch recently reported Predators GM David Poile could be interested in Anaheim Ducks starter Jonas Hiller and Florida Panthers netminder Tim Thomas. Both are unrestricted free agents at season’s end, making them good short-term option for the Predators. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson listed the Predators as a possible destination for Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
A lower-body injury to Ducks backup Viktor Fasth means Hiller is unavailable until January, while the Panthers hope Thomas can revive their flagging playoff chances. Poile is unlikely to pursue an expensive rental player like Miller. Read more
If you like plenty on shots, at least going one way, tonight’s Sharks-Maple Leafs matchup will be right up your alley.
No team in the league puts more rubber on net than San Jose and no squad gives up more opportunities than Toronto.
But it’s more than the season-long numbers that dictate why this one will be a shooting gallery for Leafs starter James Reimer. As THN Associate Senior Writer Ryan Kennedy detailed earlier this year, the go-go Sharks shoot first and don’t bother to ask questions since they’re too busy buzzing to get the puck back and reload.
This will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season, but if you’re looking for a comparable, just go back to the Nov. 5 game between the Sharks and Sabres (the second-worst shots-against team in the NHL), in which Buffalo gave up 51 in a winning shootout effort (helped by the fact the Sharks played about 10 minutes of good hockey and the usually reliable Antti Niemi played arguably his worst game of the year).
Don’t expect a similar outcome tonight. Read more
The NHL’s Christmas trade freeze period (Dec. 19 to 27) is fast approaching and the GMs of several struggling clubs hope the trade market improves before then. With 22 clubs possessing less than $5 million in cap space, it’s difficult to find willing trade partners.
New York Islanders GM Garth Snow is among those trying to find help for his floundering team. Entering this week, the Isles are 11 points out of a post-season berth, winning only two of their past 10 games. Snow must address their dire need of an experienced starting goalie and blueline depth soon to prevent his club sliding further out of playoff contention.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported two league sources claim Snow was shopping for a goalie. Garrioch suggested Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller as the best target, though he admitted convincing Miller to waive his no-trade clause to join the Isles was a long shot. Garrrioch also considers the Islanders a potential trade destination for Washington Capitals right winger Martin Erat and his $4.5 million annual cap hit.
Snow has the cap space ($16.6 million) to take on a big salary. Having already acquired Thomas Vanek, Snow’s probably not keen to pursue Miller, especially as the Sabres will squeeze him for young assets. As for Erat, he won’t resolve the Isles’ defensive problems. Read more
Whomever the Buffalo Sabres hire as their new GM will have to move quickly to determine goaltender Ryan Miller’s future with the club. Miller’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and if unwilling to re-sign could be shopped before the March 5 trade deadline.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch cited a league source claiming the Los Angeles Kings could be in the market for a goalie. That should interest Miller, whose wife, actress Noureen DeWulf, works in Hollywood.
Kings starter Jonathan Quick remains sidelined with a groin injury for at least another month and while backup Ben Scrivens has played well, Garrioch doesn’t consider him a long-term solution.
The St. Louis Blues have also been linked to Miller, but SI.com’s Allan Muir noted their limited cap space means they can’t afford Miller’s $6.25-million cap hit, even if the Sabres agreed to pick up half. Same goes for the Kings, who have $1.7 million in cap space and a 10-year commitment with Quick. Read more
Nikita Zadorov is always happy to play for his country, even if it means getting the call late the night before. Zadorov, who was just sent back to the Ontario League’s London Knights by the Buffalo Sabres, suited up for Russia at the CHL-Russia Super Series in Oshawa, Ont., last night. His inclusion was so sudden that his No. 16 sweater didn’t even have his name on the back. But in the end, it wasn’t necessary: Everyone knew who the 6-foot-5, 220-pound mountain of a defenseman was, especially when he put up three assists in Russia’s 5-2 victory over the OHL contingent and blew up 6-foot-4, 217-pound Aaron Ekblad with a big hit.