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.

With the guys who might not even move if hell freezes over taken care of, it’s time to tackle the players the Bruins might get some value from trading. While it’s unlikely all of them, or even most will be traded, and the thought of losing some of them is nearly as scary as Brittany Spears as a mother, they would do the club some good one way or another.

While the thought of losing David Krejci fills most Boston fans with the type of feeling you’d get just before you showed Mom & and Dad where the bad man touched you on a dolly, it’s both logical and leaning towards inevitable. He’ll still be an RFA when his current deal expires at the end of next season, he’s an NHL proven high end player who contributes in all three zones, his play making is his most remarked upon skill, but his contributions when he plays on the penalty kill can’t be overlooked and are nearly enough to make some teams drool alone. His $3.75 million cap hit is manageable, and he’s not the type of guy who’s going to get into trouble off the ice, and will play through any injuries he can. While the Bruins probably don’t want to trade him, he’s not (yet?) the playmaker Savard is, he’s not got the speed or shot (do I need to mention hype?) of Seguin, and he’s not got the size, physicality, puck protection or faceoff prowess of Bergeron. He’s also not got a contractual bar to movement.

Andrew Ference, when he first arrived in Boston in the Brad Stuart deal, I was surprised the scrappy little tree hugger was often the best defenseman on the ice. In the last season or two with various injuries, and certain dearly-departed defensive partners we’ve rarely seen his best play. This season, Ference has had two enormous advantages over the last couple seasons, one is the monster lining up on the opposite side of the blueline, the other is simple good health. While he only played 51 regular season games last year, he played the entire playoffs, preseason and the nineteen games so far this season. At a +11 he leads all Bruins in the category, and is undoubtedly enjoying the best play of his career.  His speed, tenacity, and grit make him desirable, his current deal at a cap friendly$2.25 million isn’t going to cause many teams to back away.

Had Marc Savard started the season healthy, it’s very likely Michael Ryder would have been assigned to Providence, or shipped out for a half stick of bubble gum and a roll of stick tape. Most of the Boston Bruins fans would have been willing to drive him to the airport. Today, he’s third in goals, fifth in scoring and has shown the most consistent effort he’s put forward in any stretch since the start of last season. He put in a strong effort no matter who he was lined up with, and had the loan goal in the Bruins recent loss to Tampa Bay.  His four million dollar deal expires at the end of the season, and teams lacking in scoring might be willing to give up a decent draft pick or prospect for the chance to tip them into the playoffs or from playoff team to contender.  He’s got a great shot, has a blazing release, and when he plays well along the boards can create a lot of turnovers.

Blake Wheeler, in this is third season out of college, the 2004 number 5 pick of the Phoenix Coyotes has been shuffled back and forth between wings, from line to line, and now from wing to center. He’s not scored all that much , but has shown some aptitude for playing center at the NHL level. If he stays and Krejci leaves he becomes the number three center by default, if he goes he has the potential to be playing like a number two center for most teams before years end.  With just a $2.2 mil cap hit, the Bruins would probably like to keep him, watch his development until the end of the season and then decide what to do with him. He went to arbitration this past off season, and landed a deal that’s fair. Even if he walks on July 1, 2011 the Bruins didn’t spend anything to get him and any deal where they bring back a pick or prospect is a win.

Dennis Siedenberg, while it’s unlikely that the shot blocking, hit-man who was acquired at the end of last season and signed over the summer will be traded, he’s a valuable player who has boosted his own stock with consistent, quality play and a solid learning curve over the last two or so seasons. His $3.25 cap number is manageable, and even desirable when compared to deals like Wayne Redden, Sheldon Souray and Brian Campbell.

Daniel Paille, who came to the Boston Bruins from the Buffalo Sabres last year has lost a lot of the cache he had when he was drafted. Back in 2002 when he was drafted by Very South Ontario’s team in the first round he was projected to be a top six forward. This season he’s been squeezed out of the lineup by younger players like Marshand and Caron. While he was an indispensable part of last years penalty kill, he’s played less than ten minutes on the penalty kill this year having been eclipsed by the arrival of the son of master of the NHL’s Wheel of Justice. There’s no question that the speedy winger can still play in the NHL, it’s just a matter of if it’s here in Boston, or elsewhere. As mentioned back in October, there are strong reasons to want Paille around, including his affordable cap hit.

Next up unlikely trade pieces and why they might be interesting one way or the other.