The first big trade of the 2014 trade deadline is upon us, and it's between the Buffalo Sabres and the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues went big with this one, acquiring Ryan Miller and Steve Ott in exchange for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round pick in 2015, and a third-round draft pick in 2016.
The Sabres will pay the difference in Miller and Halak's salaries, which is $1.75 million.
The Sabres are just bleeding captains. This is the third one they've shipped out in the last 10 months. At this point, the "C" is more of a postage stamp than a badge of honour. If you don't want to leave Buffalo, don't accept the captaincy. (And actually, Buffalo can figure out who's committed now just by seeing who lines up to take it next.)
This is a great deal for both teams. The Blues got better. They're a team built around their goalie; their weakness is that they haven't had the goalie, and now they do. Miller is the upgrade in net they've been after, making a team that's already hard to score on even more impenetrable. And Ott gives them a versatile agitator and checking forward that will fit in a little better in Ken Hitchcock's system than Stewart did.
Plus we salivate at the thought of a line featuring Ott, Max Lapierre, and Vladimir Sobotka. The three likeable guys, people will call them.
The Blues may very well have started an arms race in the Western Conference as well. Will other teams feel more pressure to add now that they have?
As for the Sabres, we applaud you, Tim Murray. Less than two full months on the job and you did the seemingly impossible: you found a taker for Ryan Miller (by pairing him with a much more moveable asset), and you got a pretty decent return in the process.
The Sabres likely aren't done, either. There are rumblings that they might turn around and offer up both Halak and Stewart to the highest bidder. Halak's a UFA at the end of the year, and Stewart has just one year left on his deal.
Of course, the real winner here is Ryan Miller, who escapes his job cleaning up after the bottom-feeding Sabres to tending goal for the second best team in the West. That's not to say his exit, after 12 years, isn't bittersweet. He was certainly having a tough time in his farewell presser:
But as he himself said, he's excited to go to a contending team and play in this year's playoffs, and if he plays the way he can, he has a chance to go deep.