NHL Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan Miller’s Year Gets Worse as He Officially Becomes Team USA’s Backup

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This hasn’t been a pleasant year for Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. Statistically, his numbers have improved from last year as far as GAA and save percentage go. That said, it’s been all for not, as the Sabres have struggled from the get-go.

Currently dead last in the league, Buffalo isn’t exactly doing themselves any favors in trying to convince Miller it’s the place to be if he wants to win a Stanley Cup. Miller, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, has seen his name tossed around in numerous trade rumors, as many believe it’s not if he gets traded, but when.

Looking to get away from the tumultuous season he’s endured with the Sabres, Miller had to be looking forward to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Coming up short in the 2010 Vancouver gold medal game, nothing would remove Buffalo’s struggles from his mind quite like getting a chance to lead his country to a gold medal.

Now, it appears he won’t be getting to fulfill this dream either.

Team USA coach Dan Bylsma announced today that Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick will be getting the starts in the elimination rounds, starting tomorrow. Miller started the team’s latest game against Slovenia, but Quick started the first two games against Slovakia and Russia. Clearly, Miller didn’t do enough in his lone start to convince Bylsma he was the man USA could lean on.

For Miller, it has to feel like this year is just piling on top of him right now. Essentially eliminated from Cup contention one month into the NHL season, now, barring an injury to Quick, he’ll be watching USA try to win gold from the bench as well. It’s quite an unfortunate situation, as he’s an incredibly talented goalie who just keeps drawing the short straw.

If there’s any bright spot, it’s those aforementioned trade rumors. His expiring contract will make him easy for a team to pick up, provided they’re willing to part with some quality pieces in return. At the very least, the fact that most of the buyers at the trade deadline are clubs with a decent chance of making the playoffs means he could see the postseason for the first time since 2011. As soon as the Olympic freeze ends after Sunday, Buffalo’s phone should be ringing off the hook to inquire about Miller’s services.

Though his season hasn’t started with a contender, it just may end with one. For Miller, who hasn’t had his fair share of good luck this year, that’s one thing that could keep him optimistic for the future.

Casey Drottar is an NHL writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CDrottar19 or “Like” him on Facebook