The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly starting Ryan Miller tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks. It is believed by many that it could very well be Miller’s last start with Buffalo, as his name is one of the biggest in the NHL trade market. Many around the league have seen the St. Louis Blues as possible front-runners to acquire the American goalie. However, the Blues apparently feel comfortable with what they currently have in net.
According to St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong, the team plans to lean on goalie Jaroslav Halak during the final stretch of the year. Apparently, Armstrong feels more than confident that Halak can get the job done come playoff time. At first glance, a statement like this seems to say “we don’t really need to trade for Miller.” If this is indeed the case, is it the right call for the Blues?
At the very least, it’s a questionable one. On the surface, it certainly appears Miller is the better goaltender. Both his and Halak’s numbers are relatively on par, all fine and well until you realize the fact that their respective teams are on polar opposite paths. The Blues are near the top of the Western Conference, while the Sabres have struggled all year. With that in mind, is it a concern that Miller’s numbers are in the same ballpark as Halak’s, despite not having the same amount of talent in front of him?
Another note is the fact that Miller has much more postseason experience than Halak. Even though Buffalo hasn’t been to the postseason since 2011, Miller has over two times as many playoff starts under his belt. Other than his impressive play during the Montreal Canadiens’ run to the Eastern Conference Championship in 2010, Halak hasn’t really shown a ton in the playoffs. In fact, since the aforementioned postseason, he’s only seen playoff action in two games. Injuries have kept him off the ice despite St. Louis consistently grabbing playoff berths.
This brings up another red flag with the idea of passing over Miller for Halak. He hasn’t exactly shown that St. Louis can rely on him to stay healthy. Again, he hasn’t seen postseason action since 2012, and he only lasted two games. Does that mean he’s guaranteed to miss time this year, too? Of course not, but it’s all the more reason to worry about betting the ranch on Halak come playoff time.
Perhaps Armstrong is just putting up smokescreens about their lack of interest in Miller. Maybe they realize the return would have to be significant and really don’t want to give up too much for what could be a rental. At the end of the day, the Blues can say they believe in Halak all they want.
However, if there’s even the slightest bit of doubt, they need to stop bluffing and get an offer ready. For a team that hasn’t made it past the first round of the playoffs too often, now’s not the time to be foolish.