The long-speculated Ryan Miller trade has finally happened. He, along with forward (and Sabres captain) Steve Ott, were dealt by Buffalo to the St. Louis Blues. Both were set to become free agents at the end of the 2013-14 season.
The Sabres will receive first- and third-round draft choices from St. Louis, as well as goalie Jaroslav Halak, right wing Chris Stewart, and forward prospect William Carrier (second round, No. 57 overall, 2013 draft), as per the St. Louis Blue official Twitter account:
BREAKING: The Blues have acquired Miller & Ott from Buffalo for Halak, Stewart, Carrier & two picks. INFO >>> http://t.co/NGLbm5mwxT
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 1, 2014
Blues get: G Ryan Miller, C/LW Steve Ott
Sabres get: first-round pick (2015), third-round pick (2016) G Jaroslav Halak, RW Chris Stewart, prospect LW William Carrier
The deal, at least at the outset, is a win-win for both teams. St. Louis gets the bona fide No. 1 goaltender they wanted for their Stanley Cup push this year, while the Sabres offload two players who were likely to walk this offseason and get a nice haul for the future in return.
Buffalo will get a top-line, goal-scoring power forward in Stewart and a new workhorse goalie in Halak (who at 28 is five years younger than Miller), a top young prospect in Carrier and two draft picks to further their current rebuilding process. Stewart, who was dealt to St. Louis three years ago as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk-Erik Johnson trade between the Blues and the Colorado Avalanche, has a nice scoring touch to go along with an aggressive demeanor. The 26-year-old winger has 115 goals and 228 in 377 career NHL games, as well as 441 penalty minutes in that span. Given his age and talent, he could certainly be part of the present and future of Buffalo’s rebuild.
Halak has been the top netminder for both the Blues and Montreal Canadiens in years past, but fell out of favor for flashier netminders- in Montreal, he was dealt away to allow former first-round draft choice Carey Price (No. 5 overall, 2005) to take the reins; now he’s been traded out of St. Louis so Miller can take over the starting job. That’s no indictment of Halak as a player, who has a career record of 139-81-26 to go along with a strong goals-against average of 2.38 and a save percentage of .917. Like Stewart, his age and talent allow him to potentially be part of the Sabres present and future.
Carrier, a 6’2″ 196 lbs. forward currently playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is described by Hockey’s Future as a developing power forward with a great shot and a nice two-way game. His best season in the juniors was in 2011-12, when he racked up 27 goals and 70 points in 66 games for Cape Breton.
This move undoubtedly solidifies the Blues as Stanley Cup contenders. Miller’s resume includes two Olympic appearances and a Vezina Trophy. He has been the Sabres’ franchise netminder for the better part of the last nine seasons, and is Buffalo’s all-time leader in wins with 257. Ott is a gritty, pesky forward who skates and checks very well, and can add some complementary offense from time to time. In short, he’ll fit right in with the hard-checking Blues. He’s no stranger to the Western Conference, as he spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Dallas Stars.
The 2013-14 NHL trade deadline bonanza is now officially underway, as the first domino has fallen. Who’ll be next to go? Ryan Callahan? Marty St. Louis? Thomas Vanek? Stay tuned.