When the St. Louis Blues acquired goaltender Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres before this year's trade deadline, it was assumed the deal made the Blues Stanley Cup favorites. The defending Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks quickly dashed those hopes by bouncing the Blues out of the playoffs’ opening round in six games.
Miller wasn't solely to blame for the Blues' early exit, but his performance (2-4 record, 2.70 GAA, .897 GAA) certainly didn't help matters. Miller's an unrestricted free agent in July, but St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jeff Gordon doubts he'll be re-signed. His colleague Jeremy Rutherford reports Miller would be interested in re-signing, but admitted contract talks haven't been very serious.
THN columnist Rory Boylen believes the Blues should pass on re-upping Miller and instead promote promising netminder Jake Allen as their starter, augmented by re-signing Brian Elliott or signing an affordable free agent backup. Boylen proposes investing the cap savings into adding a game-breaking goal scorer.
ESPN.com's Craig Custance shares this view, suggesting the Blues pursue Avalanche center Paul Stastny if he becomes a free agent in July. Custance admits that could be a tall order. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy wants to retain Stastny, who's stated his willingness to entertain a hometown discount.
NBC Sports' Mike Halford notes Blues GM Armstrong is keen to give Allen a chance to earn a roster spot next season. Armstrong didn't rule out Miller or Elliott being part of the goalie tandem. In Miller's case, Armstrong said that depends on the 34-year-old goalie's interest in staying in St. Louis.
One determining factor is Miller's asking price. He's coming off a five-year, $31.5-million deal and it's unlikely the Blues make an expensive, long-term investment in an aging goalie whose best years seem behind him. Another factor is the Blues have to surrender their first-round pick in this year's draft to the Buffalo Sabres if they re-sign Miller before the June draft.
Changes In Detroit?
Changes could be coming for the Detroit Red Wings after the Boston Bruins dispatched them in five games in their opening-round series. MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports the Wings' biggest needs are a decent-sized scoring winger and a top-four right-handed defenseman. GM Ken Holland acknowledged he'd certainly like to add that type of blueliner.
Khan notes this summer's free agent market is thin on top right-shooting defensemen, listing Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen, San Jose's Dan Boyle and Phoenix's Derek Morris among the options. Potential UFA forwards include Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, Paul Stastny, Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Devin Setoguchi and Jussi Jokinen.
ESPN.com's Craig Custance feels the Wings need to “go big” via free agency to address their needs, noting they'll have nearly $20 million in cap space this summer. Custance also points out the Wings have depth in young talent to use as trade bait if necessary, suggesting they target Vancouver's Alex Edler and Buffalo's Christian Ehrhoff.
That cap space depends upon how many of their pending unrestricted free agents are brought back next season. The list includes Daniel Alfredsson, Todd Bertuzzi, David Legwand, Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Cleary, Kyle Quincey and Jonas Gustavsson. Of these, the Detroit Free Press' Helene St. James expects only Alfredsson could be re-signed. She also reports Holland could use his remaining compliance buyout on Jordin Tootoo, but has no intention of buying out winger Johan Franzen, who struggled through an injury-shortened season.
The Wings are in the midst of a transition period, cycling in younger talent to replace aging players. Holland could use some of his youth (Jakub Kindl and Joakim Andersson) as trade bait. Given their cap space and history of keeping pace with a rising cap ceiling, he will likely go the free agent route to address his needs.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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