by Chris Peters
BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBS Sports) – The big splash of the trade deadline came on Friday night when the St. Louis Blues acquired Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a third-round pick in 2016.
The Blues confirmed the deal on their official website. Ott and Miller are expected to join the team in Phoenix for St. Louis’ Sunday game against the Coyotes.
This is a massive deal for both sides and a heavy price for the Blues to pay for a goaltender and veteran center on expiring deals. Based on what was given up, you’d have to think the Blues will push hard to sign Miller to a deal before he’s able to become an unrestricted free agent.
Goaltending was certainly an area of concern for the Blues, despite Halak and Brian Elliott being serviceable netminders. That was especially true in the postseason. Miller has a Vezina Trophy on his resume and enough postseason experience
Miller and Halak’s numbers are not terribly different, but Miller’s numbers come with the asterisk in that he’s had a porous defense in front of him. Having the Blues’ defense in front of Miller makes this club a really intriguing one in terms of being a Stanley Cup contender.
Ott, meanwhile, at the very least provides center depth for the Blues. With what they have up front, he can slide into a bottom of the lineup role. He is the third Sabres captain in the last two seasons to get dealt.
For the Sabres, this is the haul they absolutely needed to get for Miller. Halak’s deal is up at the end of the year, but he may be a decent stop-gap signing for the rebuilding club if it gets to that point. Stewart is still under contract until 2015 and just 26 years old. Then to get a solid prospect in Carrier and two valuable draft picks is more than icing on the cake.
The 2015 draft is expected to be an awfully deep one compared to 2014 as well. Even if that first-rounder ends up as a late one, it should be a valuable commodity.
The fact they were able to get some legitimate roster players and the picks for pending UFAs makes this seem like a real win for Sabres rookie general manager Tim Murray.
St. Louis is taking a bit of a home run swing here, but there’s no question they are among the NHL’s strongest teams on paper heading into the stretch run and soon, the postseason.