The Edmonton Oilers are going to make a move, perhaps a major one, soon. They’re 1-5-1. Their goaltending stinks. GM Craig MacTavish doesn’t seem the sort to humor this kind of futility. Team president Kevin Lowe was taking in a game in Washington last night – cue those Yakupov/Ovechkin apprentice/Jedi rumors!
Ah, sweet trade rumors. Stoked by the likes of Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News, who dropped this bomb on Buffalo Sabres fans in the last day or so:
“And just so you know, there was talk Wednesday afternoon that the Sabres were working on a deal with Edmonton that would send Ryan Miller or Thomas Vanek and possibly both to the Oilers in a package that would bring Nail Yakupov and more to Buffalo. Whether it actually happens is another story. But as it stood Wednesday, the two sides had considered, or were considering, a major swap.”
Here’s where we get to that tricky notion of why things could happen and whether they should happen.
A Ryan Miller trade to Edmonton could happen because the Oilers need a goalie, because Miller wants to be closer to his actress wife in California, because Sabres GM Darcy Regier and Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson are boys, and because “Maury Gare, Danny’s brother and the Oilers’ top scout, lives in Western New York and is quite familiar with the Sabres,” according to Gleason.
But what about the fact that Miller is an unrestricted free agent and might not sign with the Oilers because, well, who signs with the Oilers? Beyond the geographic allure of being in the Pacific Division, the fact is that there aren’t a hell of a lot of starting goaltending jobs available in the NHL on an annual basis, at least for a 33-year-old looking to command the salary Miller will command.
Edmonton, undoubtedly, is one of them.
So yeah, it could happen. But it would also take Miller waiving his no-trade clause, as according to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet the Oilers are one of the teams to which he can't be traded (boldedfor emphasis).
Bucky never mentioned that ...
But should a trade like this happen?
Did Edmonton draft Yakupov first overall just to eventually trade him in a roster crunch? Oil On Whyte is weary:
Miller is 33 and an unrestricted free agent at the end of year. 33 is closer to the downside of his career than the beginning and there is no guarantee that the Oilers would be able to sign him at the end of the season. Can he take the Oilers to the playoffs? Even if the answer is yes, that is a trade you make if you are Stanley Cup Contender, not a team hoping to get to the playoffs.
Imagine if Miller doesn’t lead the Oilers to the playoffs. He leaves at the end of the year and Yakupov goes on to lead the Sabres in scoring for years to come…
I’m not thrilled with the idea of mortgaging the future for 10 minutes of Ryan Miller. That’s the “Roloson maneuver” and a team that is otherwise a strong Stanley contender can make that move—this Oilers team isn’t it. Neuvirth is an interesting option, but he’s no screaming hell and there’s abundant evidence Dubnyk is a superior goaltender. Elliott had one brilliant season and has been mediocre before and since–that’s not going to help.
(On Neuvirth: If Lowe was in Washington to scout the Capitals, they didn’t showcase Neuvy against the Rangers last night. Could this be about, gulp, Braden Holtby? And if there’s any deal to be made, would now-fourth-liner Martin Erat be part of the freight headed to Edmonton? Would he go, with his no-trade clause? Ah, sweet speculation.)
Here’s the bottom line for the Sabres: Trade Miller ASAP. Get something for him, while he’s playing out of his gourd right now in an attempt to make the Sochi roster. There are limited dance partners for a Miller trade; no one’s going to be more desperate than the Oilers, even for a rental.
But for the love of Leino, keep Vanek until the trade deadline, when he becomes the final piece of a dozen puzzles.
For the Oilers … well, trading Yakupov probably does mean he blossoms into a megastar somewhere else, because that’s just So Edmonton. But it’s not as it we haven’t seen elite young talent moved in this league recently – hi, Tyler Seguin. One hopes that if Mac T plays that chip, it’ll be to help several needs and not just between the pipes.
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