Ryan Miller has been the main stay of the Buffalo Sabres for years. He emerged out of the shadow of Domnik Hasek to win his own Vezina trophy, attend the All Star festivities, and even play an Olympic tournament that was one for the ages. For a few years it looked as if he would bring glory to the team, the city, and the entire upper north west of New York State. The reality is that Terry Pegula stepped up to late to make Miller a champion in the home uniform.

When you look at Miller, and his own individual talent level, there are any number of teams that could, and probably should step to the plate and put in a worthy offer. But the teams that will be most attractive to him, with his no trade clause, and for his future are not so many. At age 33, the Lansing Michigan native has to be aware of how narrow the window is for him to win, even if he believes he can be an NHL starter another seven or eight years.

The list of teams that even if he’s traded to, he probably would not sign a new deal with include teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, and Florida Panthers. The Flyers have to be every goalies nightmare just based on history. The Lightning, Jets, Panthers and Stars are all in some stage of rebuild and growth and only one is really in advance of the Sabres. It might save a nervous general manager’s job in the short term to acquire Ryan Miller and escape the league basement, but if he doesn’t stick around, whatever assets were expended to bring him in are pure loss.

There are exactly two teams that standout as being ideal places for Ryan Miller to launch the next phase of his career. The first spot is a team with an absolutely star studded roster of mature NHL talent, a hall of fame player turned coach, and is handy to major east coast cities, has and has a very metropolitan lifestyle where mere athletes blend in. The other is an old Canadian market with absurd amounts of young talent, a couple of wily veterans and love of hockey that extends to the depths of the earth.

In Washington playing for the Capitals Miller could give up worrying about goal support, forget about being the only recognizable name that didn’t make fans despair, and simply concentrate on winning. There would be no years long wait for the team to reach peak, and little need for the dramatics he’s indulged in over the past few seasons to draw some emotional engagement out of his teammates.

The Edmonton Oilers are the other obvious landing spot. Today they sit 10th in goals for but tied for worst at 5 goals against per game. Adding Miller just months after the additions of new captain Andrew Ference, David Perron and Denis Grebeshkov would be the signal that now is the time to budding superstars Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov. The Oilers may be built around their young stars, but today’s roster is about the same average age as the Boston Bruins team that won the cup just three years ago.

One period of any game this season is enough to convince anyone Miller is healthy, hungry and at the top of his game. That same period is more than enough to convince anyone objective observer that the gap in skill, commitment, and execution between himself and his nearest team mate is similar to the gulf between the NHL and the ECHL.

The Buffalo Sabre’s declared themselves sellers. Not trading for change, sellers. Today Darcy Regier might have moved a couple pens across his desk, but players? Not so much. Moving Jason Pominville is a start, and they got solidly rated prospects back, but this is a sellers market.  This is a team that should be blown up, they have talent to get pieces that fit together, they have an owner committed to winning, and they have a fan base who is getting really, really sick of losing.

The Calgary Flames certainly shipped out a lot of talent, but there wasn’t so much an earth shattering kaboom as a muddy plop, or at least a sound involving fluid and darkly hued stuff. The return on Bouwmeester and Iginla doesn’t appear to be worth the cost of the trade call to NHL HQ.

The Florida Panthers are excused, nearly everyone who was or should have been on their NHL roster opening night, is injured. They could still have shipped out a few people.

The Washington Capitals, did nothing. The team is certainly playing better now than at the beginning of the season, but that said they are still an incredibly mediocre team on the ice. Sure on paper with Ovechkin, Carlson, Backstrom, Alzner, as part of the long term core, the rest of the team is of a lot less value, and not built to win. For some reason, today they chose to add an aging Erat with two years left on his contract, and a guy who racks up penalties, for top prospect Forsberg.

The Colorado Avalanche are just pathetic. The team isn’t good at much.  They’re 26th in goals for, 28th in goals against, 23rd on the powerplay, 22nd on the penalty kill. There is no reason to hold on to anyone, for any reason if the price is solid. If someone offers a big enough return, even Gabriel Landeskog could and should be moved. Only eight players are in double digits in points, and the drop off between the second highest scorer Matt Duchene, and the third Paul Stastny is 14 points.  When you have Matt Hunwick lead your team in time on ice per game, you’re doing not a little wrong.

The Philadelphia Flyers had so many injuries it is tough to say what the could have done, but they deserve a public shaming for trading for Steve Mason.

The NHL Entry Draft is perhaps the most exciting day on the NHL schedule. July 1st as the start of Free Agency is fun, but not as good. The trade deadline is probably third, after opening day. The trades are just one of the things that make the day fun.

The New York Islanders made a savvy pickup relieving the Anaheim Ducks of Lubomir Visnovsky. The soon to be 36 year old is on the last year of his contract and will likely be in the dual roll of top defensemen and mentor to the young blueliners. Calvin de Hann will undoubtedly benefit from Visnovsky’s nearly 800 games of NHL experience, this years first round pick Reinhart may get some time riding shotgun as may Scott Mayfield. The Islanders gave up a 2nd round pick in next years draft

The Pittsburgh Penguins sent Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Harrison Ruopp, Marc Cheverie and pick #81 (3rd round). This was the second trade of the night for the Penguins.

In the biggest trade of the day, the worlds best 3rd center Jordan Staal was relieved of that title and an address in Pittsburgh area. Instead he’ll be playing with elder brother and fellow Stanley Cup champion Eric Staal. There are a number of possibilities for how Jordan and Eric are deployed separately and together. Going back tot he steel city are, Brandon Sutter, this years 8th pick Derrick Pouliot, and Boston College alumni Brian Dumoulin. This is a win, win bigger trade. The Hurricanes overpaid, but got a player who wants to be there, will have chemistry with at least one other player, and yes is very highly talented.

The Washington Capitals grabbed Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick. That second round pick will be deployed sometime saturday morning. This is a curious move for the Capitals who have had one or two questions about their commitment and character and Mike Ribeiro is well, Mike Ribeiro. On the other hand I not only haven’t figured out what method George Mcfee is using to shape the team, I haven’t figured out how he’s still employed.

Change and unequal cycles of it are a constant in the NHL. The vogue for over a decade was to draft goalies in the first round, sometimes even very high or first overall. Drafting for need is now frowned upon. And in the last decade we’ve not seen more than two or three major trades. But that trend was almost certainly broken when Ilya Kovalchuk went north.

Since last summer two of the major names from “the golden draft” were traded by one team. One of them was traded a second time. Now the rumor mill is swirling around names from border to border and coast to coast. Jay Bouwmeester is one of the best (and most misused) defensemen in the NHL. There are four defensemen who I’ll accept flat statements of defensemen being better than him, and another four or five who with a different tool set are as good, no more. He’s likely the odd man out on the Calgary Flames roster.

The Nashville Predators have not traditionally been big spenders. A year ago they went to arbitration with one of the best defensemen in the game. This year if they don’t sign him long term it is quite likely he’ll disappear over the horizon next summer. On top of the very real possibility of losing this year’s (and last year’s) rightful Norris trophy winner Shea Weber, their other franchise quality defenseman has decided to test the free agent market. If the Predators can’t find a way to keep both they may just decide a radical rebuild is in order and trade their captain while they can still get something for him instead of letting him walk as a free agent for no return. Without Weber and Suter the Predators would be lucky to win 20 games, and that’s with Renne stealing at least six or seven. With one of them if they manage to get some help up front and a passable replacement they arguably have the balance to go far.

Jordan Staal has more rumors swirling around him than a Hollywood starlet the morning after an serious bender. Most of them are Hurricane shaped rumors. But given the 23 year old stars prowess, even the denial of his availability by Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero probably won’t do much to dampen the rumors. As long as those rumors persist, the 30 goal scoring “defensive forward” is going to generate a lot of attention. If there are two teams in the NHL that don’t at least kick the idea of adding him to their roster around their warroom, I’d be saddened greatly.

With all the excitement around the fresh chum in the water its almost possible to forget the #Ranson4Rick saga is entering its sixth or seventh month. Rick Nash is unarguably a high end talent who had the misfortune of being drafted by a team with nearly a thimble full of clue. Some might say he’s been stewing in organizational failure so long he’s never going to have that extra juice to be successful in the playoffs he’s seen exactly once in nine seasons. Depending on who you disbelieve least, the rumors have him going anywhere and everywhere including the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, and a couple of basement dwellers not much better than the Blue Jackets.

 There are conflicting reports on the truth of Evander Kane refusing to sign in Winnipeg, but honestly how many rugged, physical, 30 goal scoring 20 year olds come across the trade market? On a sign and trade there’s no conceivable way he’d fetch less than two first round picks or a pick and player. A team like the Los Angeles Kings who may lose some bodies to free agency could certainly slide him into the mix and improve themselves. The Anahiem Ducks would likewise become a much more formidable opponent. As for the Phoenix Coyotes with the aging core that they have been built around, a youngster who has a similar rugged playing style to Captain Shane Doan and more offense isn’t a bad way to pass the torch. If the ownership situation is resolved there I’d be shocked if there were no major moves in the first few months.

So is this the summer scribes across the continent get to write about things that have or are happening? Will we see more posts on how lineups project and a reordering of the standings than on fighting or contracts that are too long? Maybe just maybe the hockey media will stick to hockey and not TMZ like personal life stories of players? Could we get a trade or two that redefines the next decade of hockey? Please??

Today the Boston Bruins traded about six weeks of an expiring contract for two first round picks (one past, one future), and an additional conditional pick.  One of those first round picks was used to pick Joe Colborne, billed as “Jumbo Joe”, he has a similar although not as polished skill set as Joe Thornton. The other first rounder could be anyone, the only thing we know about them today is that whoever that pick is, they will be strengthening a division rival. Admittedly, as far as the Maple Leafs have to climb, it could take a while before they can threaten to take the division title.

In a separate trade, Blake Wheeler, the under performing former first round pick but undeniably talented forward picked up as a free agent, and first round draft pick Mark Stuart were sent to hockey exile in Atlanta where they will play in front of AHL sized crowds. In return Atlanta dumps a failed defenseman in Boris Valabik who’s sole claim to fame is having fought to and lost to countryman Zdeno Chara, and their forward with the second worst +/1 on the team, Rich Peverly.

So in exchange for four first round level picks today, the toughness and leadership of Stuart,  the Bruins get back a puck moving defenseman who’s goal scoring has dropped steadily for years in Thomas Kaberle with no guarantee he will be here past July 1st, an undrafted forward that doesn’t appear to know anything about the defensive zone, who is yet another center, and a guy who couldn’t stay on the Atlanta blueline when they were among the worst defensive teams in the entire NHL. They also got to strengthen a division rival, and remove two top penalty killers.

This is a colossal role of the dice, in the unlikely-in-the-extreme event I’m wrong, and Chiarelli and Neely are right I’ll be overjoyed at the Stanley Cup parade. As it stands now, that’s unlikely and I suspect more than a handful of general managers around the league are laughing out-loud over these trades.

Yes ladies and gentleman, the NHL trade deadline is less than two weeks away. NHLNumbers,  CapGeek, Kuklas Korner, and Spectors are all buying extra bandwidth, other sports outlets are using these days to set their advertising prices on hockey pages for the year, and many players have probably carefully drown their phones to avoid texts, tweets and calls about rumors circling them.  But lost in the shuffle is how much of what is said, hinted at and is speculation at best and pure self serving lies at worst.

The Lecavalier to Montreal rumors swirled in the bowl for years, and refused their rightful deserts of a good flush despite all the statements by Lecavalier and the various suits at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Less persistent, but of equally odoriferous were the Malkin to the Kings rumors. More recently Ilya Kovalchuk was linked to the Kings, the Islanders, his former team the Atlanta Thrashers, half the KHL and Santa Clause over the summer, as we all know the New Jersey Devils were his destination.

For at least the last three years Thomas Kaberle has been “linked” to the Boston Bruins. Aside from being the “puck moving defenseman” that every team wants. Admittedly he’s been linked to other team, but not nearly as frequently. The radio silence some parties involved have asked for has been as easy to find as back to back sell outs for the Blue Jackets. At one point it was Phil Kessel for Kaberle, at draft picks, prospects and roster picks have rotated through the other half of the equation (and sources tell me that The Bruins refusal to include  a hockey puck autographed by Bourque and Orr for Burkes mantle was the drop dead point on one trade deal) and all of these deals have been close very close, or done deal.

I love speculation on potential trades as much as the next fan. I just prefer to get all my fantasy bound in a book and clearly labeled as such.  The rumor mongering surrounding the Kaberle deal and the Boston Bruins is coming from the same sources it always does. I’m not saying they are 100% wrong, or even that it’s malicious, but don’t forget they are all paid to generate traffic on their websites and viewers on their shows. I’ll listen on other deals, but for now I’d rather find out what it’s like to live in a city of werewolves in my own personal flesh, or maybe encounter an invisible dragon in a patch of dark woods than read one more headline about how the Kaberle deal is done until it is done and announced on the Maple Leafs website and wherever he lands.

While I don’t particularly see Moulson as a likely Bruins acquisition there are several reasons he might be a good fit. Chief among them are that he’s a natural left wing. Currently the only one of those we have is Milan Lucic. Michael Ryder, Mark Recchi, Blake Wheeler, Nathan Horton, and Shawn Thornton are all most comfortable on the right. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin have played all three positions at one point or another. Patrice Bergeron was drafted at right wing where David Krejci has also played on the right.

Other markers in Moulson’s favor as a Bruin are his having reasonable size at six one and two ten. He’s a former 30 goal man, and at 26 he’d slide smoothly into the age bracket of the Bruins core.

Based on what the Islanders need most one a solid defenseman, and a good second center. Realistically this could mean Krejci or Boychuck going back. Moulson and Boychuck are both UFA’s this summer, Krejci still had one more year and is still an RFA at the end of his deal. Aside from the salary a straight Boychuck for Moulson deal is a potential plus for both teams.

A more interesting deal might involve two forwards such as Wheeler and or Krejci and or Paille for Moulson. This would clear more cap space and allow one of the hard working prospects in Providence back on the scene with time on the clock before the deadline for any further tweaking.

Matt Hunwick, we hardly knew you, and now you’re an Avalanche.

Matt,

Good luck, I always liked your heart. Even on the nights when your head was elsewhere you laid your body on the line.  You had your spleen removed while you were here, you nearly had your eye gouged out by Mike Komisarek, and you had a memorable fight with some nameless git on the Carolina Hurricanes.  While some of us found you maddeningly inconsistent, we all love your shot, adore your skating and hell, you gave grown men a chance to call you “Hunny” with your breakouts and sick puck handling. I think you’re solid at defense, but maybe the Avalanche will convert you back to a winger. I think with your speed and shot you might succeed their beyond what you can do as defenseman. I doubt this trade was highly personal, it’s just a matter of salary movement and you got the ticket west. We both know others will be leaving the hub of hockey. But who knows, Glen Murray returned, you might too. I doubt the guy you were traded for, a former BU Terrier, Colby Cohen, will see the roster anytime before the All Star game at the earliest, Kampfer and Bartowski are probably arguing right now over which of them will end up in your locker. Both deserve a shot, and you still get to go play for an upcoming team. As a veteran of three different playoff series you may find yourself a leader on your new team.

Much success (except against the Bruins),

Puck Sage

Peter Chiarelli has stated he wants to be proactive in addressing the pending cap crunch. For the purposes of this article trades have to make sense to all parties concerned. This means that if a player has a no trade clause, the place they might be shipped to has to be a strong playoff team, the cap numbers have to make sense and worse from the armchair GM’s position, the bodies have to line up right.

First trade, and probably the least likely situation.*

To Boston:

Conditional 3rd Round pick, 2011.

To Los Angeles:

Marco Sturm

If Marco Sturm scores more than 20 goals, or is resigned by the Kings or they win the Stanley Cup with him having played 3 or more playoff games the pick would become a 2nd round pick.

Why:

Boston, moves a loyal soldier who will probably not be resigned to a good situation.

Los Angeles, depth at left wing, secondary leadership, and someone who can step in to the penalty kill as needed.

Sturm, gets his feet wet with another organization and moves to a very good young team with stars on the rise.

To Boston:

Jeff Petry, 2nd round pick in 2012, 3rd round pick in 2011

To Edmonton:

Blake Wheeler, Daniel Paille,  Matt Dalton

Why:

Boston: $3.2 Million in salary moved, and allows more grooming of late cuts like Arniel, Sauve (when he is healthy again), Colborne and others. Moves Paille before he becomes a distraction sitting on the bench as he has thus far. Two easiest guys to move on the roster that you have a shot at getting back something of similar value.

Edmonton: Size, speed, playoff experience and above all two high end penalty killers that might drag their pretty pathetic penalty kill into the realm of respectable. Both guys work hard, Wheeler has 30 goals written all over him, and might be the center that Hall needs.  Dalton is also as strong or stronger a prospect as any goaltender the Oilers have currently.

To Boston:

Ryan Suter, 1st round pick, 2nd round pick

To Nashville:

Matt Hunwick, Andrew Ference, Joe Colborne, Blake Wheeler

Why:

Boston gets an elite defenseman coming back and drops a net $2.4million

Nashville gets two first round pick forwards who are versatile enough to play all forward positions, and gives them the potential to move into the top half of the NHL’s goal for column for the first time in years.

To Boston:

Chris Stewart, 2 2nd round picks, 1 3rd

To Colorado:

Blake Wheeler, Daniel Paille, Michael Ryder, Matt Dalton

Why:

Boston: About six million dollars off the books, and a solid young winger.

Colorado: They’re depth at goaltending almost doesn’t exist, their penalty kill could hardly be made worse by losing an extra man each penalty.

To Boston:

Keith Yandle, Brandon Gormley, 2nd round pick

To Pheonix

David Krejci, Blake Wheeler, Adam Courchaine, Andrew Ference, Jamie Arniel

Why:

Boston get’s two top four quality defensemen, loses some salary, clears up some of the log jam at center.

Phoenix gets a player who would easily be their number one center, a forward the organization was keen on enough to use a first round pick on, and gets to shore up their goaltending.

Capgeek, Hockey’s Future, and NHLNumbers used for basic background info.

*Ok so nearly all trades are unlikely in the current NHL. At least there is something in it for each team.