The easy choice for the top netminder to be had this year is Ryan Miller. After spending parts of 10 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Miller was shipped to St. Louis at the trade deadline last season in what turned out to be a failed experiment.
Miller was sent to the Blues along with Steve Ott in exchange for goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart and a first-round pick in the 2015 draft. The Blues were at the top of the league at that point and thought adding Miller would be the piece to put them over the top for a long playoff run.
At the time of the trade, the Blues held a .661 winning percentage. By season’s end, that had dropped to .565. The trend continued into the playoffs as the team was eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
Of course, the blame isn’t all on Miller, but he didn’t exactly hold up his end of the deal. Miller began his St. Louis career with outstanding success, posting stats of 9-3-1 in March, with a .912 save percentage and a 2.18 goals-against-average (GAA). However, the success didn’t carry over into April, a month in which he lost five of his six starts, including five straight. Miller put up an .885 save percentage and a 3.11 GAA over that period.
The playoffs were more of the same as Miller recorded an .897 save percentage with a 2.70 GAA in the Blues’ first-round exit.
Saying all that however, Miller is still the best goalie available and he is still a top player. His career .915 save percentage will attest to that.
The problem is that most teams look set at the starter position. A handful of teams are in need of backup goalies, but no team is in dire need of a starter. There are a few teams that would be upgraded by acquiring Miller. I think the Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets, and Calgary Flames could all be considered.
We can probably rule out Calgary due to Miller just left a team that won’t be competitive for a few years. Winnipeg and Washington are interesting, though.
The Capitals let Halak go to the Islanders and suggested they are content with Braden Holtby as their starter. Considering Holtby’s inconsistency last season, the Capitals could (and probably should) be interested in Miller for the right price.
The Jets have Ondrej Pavelec slotted as their number one guy. To go with a guy that has a career .906 save percentage and 2.96 GAA in 288 NHL games seems irresponsible for a team that was mostly competitive last year. I don’t know how Miller would feel about going to Winnipeg or if the Jets could afford him, but Miller would certainly be an upgrade for them.