Pending UFA Ryan Miller is set to hit the open market on July 1 and won't return to the Blues after they re-signed Brian Elliott. Rumor Roundup explains why it's unlikely Miller will be traded at the draft and who the frontrunners are for his services.
The St. Louis Blues' re-signing of Brian Elliott to a three-year, $7.5-million contract spells the end of Ryan Miller's short tenure as their starting goalie. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Blues GM Doug Armstrong intends to use Elliott and the promising Jake Allen as his tandem going forward.
Armstrong acquired Miller in a multi-player swap at the March trade deadline. The 33-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Armstrong could shop Miller's rights before then, but Rutherford points out that would prove costly for the Blues.
If the Blues trade Miller's rights before the NHL Draft (June 27-28), their first round pick (24th overall) would go to the Sabres. If they wait to trade his rights until after the first round, the 2016 third round pick they sent to the Sabres would become a second-rounder. They could try to move his rights after the draft, but with free agency beginning on July 1 there won't be much time for an interested team to negotiate a contract with Miller.
In the wake of Elliott's signing, there's growing speculation over where Miller will end up this summer. NBC Sports' Jason Brough lists the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild and Pittsburgh Penguins as possible destinations. The Buffalo News' John Vogl also suggests Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver.
Miller's wife is actress Noureen DeWulf, so he probably prefers signing with a California-based team. CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz believes signing Miller makes sense for the Sharks if they move current starter Antti Niemi.
It's expected the Ducks will allow long-time starting goalie Jonas Hiller to depart via free agency, leaving Frederik Andersen and John Gibson as their tandem next season. Both have promise, but lack significant NHL experience. With Gibson considered their future starter, the Ducks could bring Miller in to mentor the youngster, which would make Andersen expendable.
Miller is coming off a five-year deal worth $6.25 million per season. He will likely seek a lucrative long-term deal, but given his age and declining performance, he could receive offers of two or three years at around $5 million per season. He may have to accept a lesser deal if he hopes to sign with the Ducks or Sharks.
If the Penguins pursue Miller they'll have to move out Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a year remaining on his contract (with a limited no-trade clause) at a cap hit of $5 million. At this stage, however, Miller scarcely seems an improvement over Fleury. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook made the case for the Penguins to re-sign Fleury, citing his improved performance this season.
The Canucks could stick with Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, while the Wild could enter next season carrying Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper. USA Today's Mike Brehm included the Washington Capitals among his list of destinations for Miller, but they're likely to stick with young goalies Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly 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.).
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