Ryan Miller has a 2.83 GAA and .914 SP, but the Sabres sit 13th in the East. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
More than two weeks ago, the CBC's Elliotte Friedman suggested it might be time for the Buffalo Sabres and Ryan Miller to part ways.
Add Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos and The Buffalo News' Bucky Gleason to those who believe Miller time is coming to an end in the Queen City.
During Tuesday's Canucks-Blue Jackets game, Kypreos said Miller's days in Buffalo were numbered, though a soft goalie market leading up to the April 3 trade deadline may force the Sabres to wait until this summer or next season to move him.
Gleason suggested that not only Miller should be dealt to a playoff contender, but also teammates Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, fearing their trade value will decrease by the time their contracts expire next spring.
Miller ($6.25 million per season) and Pominville ($5.3 million per season) have limited no-trade clauses allowing them to list eight teams they won't accept being dealt to. Vanek doesn’t have this clause, but carries a hefty $7.1-million cap hit.
While there would be considerable interest in the trio, their salaries would prove difficult to move right now.
Sabres management could wait until the summer to off-load Miller, Vanek and/or Pominville, when there are usually more teams with available cap space willing to pursue high-salaried stars.
But with the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million next season there may be limited interest in the trio even in the summer. To execute a deal, the Sabres may have to take back an unwanted short-term contract or retain part of an outgoing player’s salary.
OIL LEAK, OR SOON TO PEAK?
Less than a week ago, the Edmonton Oilers playoff hopes appeared to be fading.
They managed only four wins in February and were 0-4-1 in their first five games in March, dropping them to the low rungs of the Western Conference and stoking speculation they would become trade deadline sellers.
GM Steve Tambellini, however, refuses to give up on his team's playoff hopes, especially after two recent victories over Chicago and Colorado moved the Oilers to within three points of the final playoff berth.
Tambellini told the Edmonton Journal he would remain vigilant for any deal that would help his team, but has no intention of trading any of his young players for a quick fix.
Regardless of the Oilers’ position in the standings, defenseman Ryan Whitney is expected to be traded by the deadline. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer and won't be re-signed.
Whitney was a healthy scratch several times in February, but has seen more playing time of late, sparking an improvement in his performance.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the Oilers – who are believed to be seeking a big, physical forward - hope Whitney's improvement bolsters his trade value.
IS GONCHAR EXPENDABLE, OR NECESSARY IN OTTAWA?
The Ottawa Senators added some toughness earlier this week, acquiring enforcer Matt Kassian from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a sixth round pick.
Depending on where the Senators are in the standings by the deadline, GM Bryan Murray may have more moves up his sleeve.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch suggested veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar was a “top candidate” for a trade, citing his free agent status this summer. Garrioch also noted Colin Greening has drawn interest from a couple of teams.
With Erik Karlsson out for the season, the 38-year-old Gonchar has filled the void, with half of his 13 points this season coming in the past five games. They need him if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Greening's production has been down this season, but he's currently tied for fourth in team scoring. Unless Murray believes the playoffs are out of reach, or if he can get a better player in return, moving Greening makes little sense.
The Senators welcomed left winger Guillaume Latendresse back from a concussion, and Jason Spezza (back) could return to the lineup by month's end, which would greatly improve their sagging offense.
Milan Michalek, however, continues to be hampered by a knee injury. If he's forced to undergo surgery, it could push Murray into the market for an affordable winger.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).