Blues Bite Bullet in Blockbuster: Trade for Miller and Buffalo 'C'
Perhaps St Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong gazed upon the mighty Mississippi River for inspiration ...
It's there that the legendary sternwheelers from a bygone era hosted riverboat gamblers out to make their fortunes or win those of lesser players.
And with that, he gathered up his chips, pushed them in the direction of Buffalo GM Tim Murray, and pulled back a goaltender with a playoff-hardened pedigree in Ryan Miller along with Sabres captain Steve Ott. In so doing, the Blues hope they now have a key piece to their Stanley Cup puzzle, not to mention added depth in a solid center whose captaincy speaks volumes for his character and intensity.
On the other side of the table, Murray is surely smiling at his haul:
- Jaroslav Halák, a goalie who may not have Miller's experience in big games, but he's a steady performer with similar numbers;
- Chris Stewart, a hard-nosed winger who doesn't mind mixing it up;
- William Carrier, the Sabres' second-round pick last season who possesses a cannon of a shot; plus
- The Blues' first-round pick in 2015 and third-round pick in 2016.
In short, the re-building Sabres acquired serviceable pieces that won't bust their budget along with a pair of future picks that should be quite well-timed if their plan remains on schedule by then.
Meanwhile, Armstrong still needs to get Miller signed and sealed for seasons beyond this one. The New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist set the market with his recently-inked deal, so the Blues exec -- Armstrong's also the president of hockey operations -- has surely already done the math.
Miller has been brilliant behind a suspect Sabres defense for years. The Blues' d-men are a strength of the club on both ends of the ice to the extent that Miller may think he's made it to heaven. That feeling may be mutual among his new teammates.
Ott is a familiar face to many of the Blues and will be just as welcome as Miller. He's definitely more than a throw-in:
At the time of the trade, St Louis leads the Central Division with 84 points (39-13-6), which is good for second overall in the West behind the Anaheim Ducks (87 points; 41-14-5), who are mighty again, and just ahead of the Cup-defending Chicago Blackhawks (84; 35-12-14).
The Blues have been knocking on the Stanley Cup door for years. With the West being even stronger in 2013-2014, this trade merely guarantees that St Louis can legitmately be mentioned as a contender for the finals. However, the addition of Miller and Ott will make those mentions louder than they've ever been.