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The first major chip fell in the National Hockey League trade market yesterday, with a little less than a week before the Wednesday, March 5 deadline.
The Buffalo Sabres dealt goaltender Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to the cup contending St. Louis Blues for goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 1st round draft choice and conditional 2016 3rd round draft pick.
If that seems like a lot for the Blues to have given up, you would be right in your assumption. With prospect Jake Allen looming as the goaltender of the future for the Blues, if Miller is to sign a long term deal this summer with them, it would set the development back of one of the brightest goaltending prospects to come along in a long while. Ott is considered nothing more than a rental for a Stanley Cup run.
On the flip side of the coin, Miller gives them a better chance at obtaining that dream of lifting the silverware and Halak, along with Stewart, did not live up to their lofty expectations.
Question marks abound in this deal regarding contracts also. Miller, Ott and Halak are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer with Miller the only one seen with a reasonable chance of remaining with the team he was just traded to. High sources around the league are certain that Halak and possibly even Stewart will be used for another deal by the Sabres before Wednesday.
Garth Snow is doing the right thing by waiting and letting various things fall into place before moving his two prizes, Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald. Vanek remains the top present and as we get closer to the deadline, his price will only rise and general managers will become more desperate to obtain his services to keep pace with the Blues. As far as MacDonald is concerned, the Rangers excellent signing yesterday of defenseman Dan Girardi to a very fair deal (6 years, 33mm) takes a valuable playoff addition off the market and only makes A-Mac more valuable. It also makes teams less afraid of his 5mm per year contract demands in free agency.
As we enter the final weekend before the fireworks commence, expect rumors to slowly die down as general managers really get to work and stop talking to the media. Phones will be lighting up all across the league and players will be moved, some of consequence and others of none.
But know this. After watching and seeing Islanders social media react this year to the various troubles on the ice, no matter what Garth Snow can acquire in return, my guess is that 65% will not be happy with it. Because you know, Twitter and all. So prepare yourselves for a wild ride. This might be the perfect time to become a social media lurker and not a participant.
In Case You Missed It
- The General Lee leads Isles to win over Toronto (EOI)
- Art Staple on the players meeting the Isles held after practice the other day (Newsday)
- Dan Petriw gives his take on the kids performance (Hockey Buzz)
- Friedman says its gut check time for the team without Tavares (WFAN)
- Clever title used here by Spencer Davidson on his Vanek column (THW)
- The official site gives you their game preview of the matinee today (NY Islanders)
Around The NHL
Across The Bridge
That is now seven straight for the red hot Bridgeport Sound Tigers as they continue to tear through their American Hockey League competition. Even without their top line of Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Mike Halmo, they still defeated the Providence Bruins last night 4-2 behind a strong performance out of Anders Nilsson, who made 31 saves. The official recap can be found right here.
The Sound Tigers return home to Webster Bank Arena Saturday when they host the Worcester Sharks at 7 p.m. They’ll take on the Utica Comets Sunday at 3 p.m. at home as well.