The St. Louis Blues were growing tired of their postseasons ending early. They knew they had to make a move at the NHL trade deadline to try and bring an end to their playoff struggles, and it certainly looked like they accomplished their mission. The Blues grabbed the majority of the deadline headlines when they made a trade with the Buffalo Sabres for goalie Ryan Miller. He excelled early for St. Louis, leading many to believe he was the final piece the team needed to make a legit playoff run.
Flash forward to today, where the Blues are most likely packing up their lockers after another quick postseason exit. The club had a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks, but failed to win another game. The Blackhawks finished things off with a resounding 5-1 victory yesterday. Miller allowed all five goals, and posted a .897 save percentage for the entire series.
The Blues were reportedly going through contract extension talks with Miller in hopes that they weren’t just dealing with a rental. However, the lackluster results, combined with the fact Miller will undoubtedly still demand a hefty deal, should all but guarantee yesterday was his last game in St. Louis.
Sure, the Blues had injury issues to deal with down the stretch. Various games in the series with Chicago featured key players scratched due to damages. But, St. Louis traded for Miller with the intent of making their team better, not so they can try and make excuses for him after a premature playoff exit. The truth is he under-performed. For comparison’s sake, Miller had a .923 save percentage for a very bad Buffalo team before he was traded. He finished the regular season in St. Louis with a .903 save percentage. And, while we’re on this statistic, in six postseason games last year, backup goalie Brian Elliot saved 91% of the shots he faced.
So, despite being a bigger name around the league, Miller really didn’t make things much better in net for the Blues. Why would they want to pay more money and devote more years to someone who made no real impact?
The only reason St. Louis may consider trying to bring Miller back is to attempt to save face. They gave up a lot in acquiring him, and if they don’t resign him then they essentially sent Buffalo some key assets for what amounted to 25 games of average goaltending. As mentioned, Miller will most likely try and get a sizable contract, and if the Blues pay him big money for the same kind of results they just saw, they wouldn’t exactly look too smart. Also, if he resigns with St. Louis before this summer’s draft, the 2016 third-round pick they sent Buffalo in the trade becomes a first-round pick. Do you really think they want to give the Sabres even more than they already have considering the returns?
For all we know, though, Miller may not want to return to the Blues in the first place. He says he likes the team and city, but rumors surfaced early in his stint with St. Louis that he was hoping to play on the west coast. At that time, the Blues still wanted Miller back. Things may have changed now.
This is not to lay 100% of the responsibility for St. Louis’ loss at the feet of their goalie. There’s plenty of blame to go around, as it was the entire team who lost four straight after grabbing an early series lead. But Miller was brought in to change the postseason fortunes of the Blues, and nothing changed at all. St. Louis needs to ask themselves why they should bother spending a ton of money on a goalie who ended up giving them no reason to consider it in the first place.