(Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
If Buffalo speeds up its rebuild, what are the chances Ryan Miller resigns rather than gets dealt? Could Craig Anderson end up with the Islanders? And what will become of Dmitry Kulikov?
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.
The New York Islanders are thought to be seeking a goalie, but their current struggles makes it unlikely Miller waives his no-trade clause to jump from one floundering, non-playoff club to another.
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun believes it's expected the St. Louis Blues to make a pitch for Miller, with “talk around the league” suggesting they could shop winger T.J. Oshie. Considering Oshie's among the Blues' leading scorers (25 points in 28 games) it's unlikely they'll move him.
Even if the Blues offered Oshie and his $4.2-million annual cap hit for Miller, they would still lack sufficient cap space to absorb his $6.3-million salary. Such a move means slashing payroll, which could adversely affect the Blues chemistry.
ANDERSON TO THE ISLAND?
If the New York Islanders' rumored efforts to land Miller prove fruitless, they should give the Ottawa Senators a call.
The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa reported Sunday on the struggles of Senators starter Craig Anderson, whose numbers this season (7-8-3, 3.38 goals-against average, .897 save percentage) are well below last season's (12-9-2, 1.69 GAA, .941 SP), likely costing him a roster spot on Team USA at the Sochi Olympics.
Shinzawa noted Anderson has one year (at a cap hit of $3.2 million) remaining on his contract and with 22-year-old Robin Lehner considered their “future ace” the 32-year-old's time with the Senators could be nearing an end. Shinzawa claimed the Sens had hoped to trade Anderson for a decent return (as they did with Ben Bishop last season when they shipped him to Tampa Bay for promising winger Cory Conacher), but his performance is hurting his trade value.
Unlike Miller, Anderson lacks a no-trade clause. The Senators are in the market for blueline help, but were also rumored to be seeking a top-six forward, an area where the Isles have some depth to draw upon for trade bait.
Newsday's Arthur Staple recently listed speedy winger Michael Grabner among those he felt the Isles should consider shopping. He also advocated moving veteran Lubomir Visnovsky, but his injury history and $4.8-million cap hit won't entice the budget-conscious Senators.
KULIKOV BUZZ STILL ABOUNDS
Trade rumors continue to dog Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.
The Denver Post's Adrian Dater noted a report last week linking Kulikov to the Colorado Avalanche. While a change of scenery might improve Kulikov's game, Dater pointed out the 23-year-old was a recent healthy scratch and questioned his value when he can't stay in the moribund Panthers lineup.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman also noted Kulikov's scratch from the Panthers lineup, believing the real reason behind it was the Panthers had a trade in place (possibly with the Avalanche), but it fell apart at the last minute. GM Dale Tallon dismissed the report, insisting the move was based on his play.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson included Kulikov among his list of blueline trade targets for the Oilers. Other clubs that could have interest in Kulikov include the Islanders, Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers.
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.).
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