The first major deal ahead of the March 5 NHL trade deadline has been made by the St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres.
The two teams announced a five-player trade that includes two draft picks Friday evening, headlined by the swap of starting goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jaroslav Halak.[tweet https://twitter.com/lkorac10/status/439551486717358081 align=”center”] [tweet https://twitter.com/TSNBobMcKenzie/statuses/439562279261323264 align=”center”]
Miller, 33, has played well for a struggling Buffalo club that sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. He’s 15-22-3 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.72 goals against average — more than respectable numbers on a poor defensive team.
The Blues’ goaltending tandem of Halak and Brian Elliott had been among the league’s best over the last two years, and this duo helped the team rank third in goals against and third in penalty killing entering Friday’s games. With that said, St. Louis has been defeated in the playoffs two years in a row by the Los Angeles Kings and their superior goaltending with Jonathan Quick. Halak has been unable to rediscover his playoff form from 2010 when he led the Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Final, and Elliott is not a No. 1 caliber goalie on a championship contender.[tweet https://twitter.com/JSportsnet/status/439552035671654400 align=”center”]
Acquiring Ott helps replace the scoring, toughness and forward depth that St. Louis lost by giving up Chris Stewart in this mega-deal. Ott is in the final year of his contract.
As for the Sabres, trading Miller was the right move because the team could have lost him for nothing in the summer as an unrestricted free agent. Stewart is a great addition for the Sabres as a top-six forward capable of scoring 20-30 goals, excelling on special teams and providing a physical presence in all three zones. He has one more year left on his contract. The acquisition of Halak gives Buffalo a netminder to build around, but he’s also a UFA after this season. It’s possible Buffalo could trade Halak at the deadline to acquire more assets for its rebuild.[tweet https://twitter.com/TSNBobMcKenzie/status/439559022996234240 align=”center”]
Will Carrier is the prospect going to Buffalo in this deal. The 19-year-old left winger, who was drafted 57th overall in the 2013 draft, plays for the Drummondville Votigeurs of the QMJHL. He has tallied 15 points in 20 games.
Buffalo also acquired a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft, which is expected to feature one of the strongest classes in years. The Sabres currently have at least four first-round selections in the next two drafts. If the Blues reach the Western Conference Finals or Miller re-signs this year, the third-round pick in this trade becomes a 2014 first-round selection.
All salary/contract information via CapGeek.