With the prospects of unrestricted free agency coming up this summer, the Sabres have until the March 5 trade deadline to collect some kind of return for the player or risk losing him for nothing come July. This is exactly what manager Tim Murray is attempting to do, according to a report by the Associated Press on Monday night.
Citing a source with knowledge of the discussions, the AP is reporting that Murray intends to trade Miller by next week, via the Associated Press:
A person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press that general manager Tim Murray continues to pursue offers for Miller with the intention of trading him by next week.
''Tim is testing the waters as hard as he can,'' the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Murray declined to speak to reporters Monday.
While Miller's play has been fantastic and warrants a sizable return, finding an interested trading partner is -- and will continue to be -- a difficult endeavor. Most contending teams already have No. 1 goaltenders in place and aren't looking to upgrade the position.
NHL Trade Rumors
NHL Trade Rumors
The St. Louis Blues have long been rumored to be interested in Miller, but the club already has two goaltenders in addition to Jake Allen in the American Hockey League. While some question whether a tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott can carry the Blues to a Stanley Cup, it remains to be seen whether the team views Miller as the missing piece to its puzzle. Trading for Miller will require the team to part with valuable pieces to the future, pieces that St. Louis manager Doug Armstrong might value more in the long-term in comparison to the short-term value of Miller.
And while the outside world might question Elliott and Halak, the Blues might not share that evaluation.
In the event that Buffalo can't find a team willing to trade for Miller, the Associated Press reports the club will look to sign him to a contract extension. In addition, Brian Lawton tweeted that Buffalo has since turned its attention to signing Miller to a long-term contract because the prospects of trading him are non-existent:
The school of thought on Miller @BuffaloSabres is that a deal in the Lundqvist range now would allow team to trade him in a better market.— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) February 25, 2014
This is where things start to go off the rails a bit.
Miller still has a few years left on his playing career, but is certainly closer to the end of it than he is the beginning. Buffalo is planning a full rebuild that could take multiple years, which obviously might not align with the arc of Miller's career. His intention -- by most media reports -- is to have a chance to win, be near the West coast and make money.
End of an Era
End of an Era
If Miller signs a long-term deal with the Sabres, he loses the opportunity to pick where he plays and, in all likelihood, an opportunity to win. But at least he'll have money and some sense of security as any deal with the Sabres would likely have a full no-movement clause, which would keep the team from trading him to a place he doesn't want to go further down the line.
In reality, the goaltending market probably won't be much different in July than it is now, so Miller might not have any (better) options come free agency, anyway.
Ultimately, the Miller situation is the most intriguing heading into the deadline because key hurdles stand in the way of a deal being made. While Miller being somewhere else come 3:01 p.m. ET on March 5 might be ideal for all involved, it might not end up happening that way. And even with an opportunity to walk come the summertime, Miller might not have anywhere to go to.