The St. Louis Blues gave up a lot to get Ryan Miller. They have no desire to give up anything else, other than the goaltender.
The Sabres’ trade of Miller contained a host of conditions that would change the final haul, but the February deal neared completion Monday after St. Louis decided to move on from the goalie. The Blues re-signed backup Brian Elliott to a three-year, $7.5 million deal. St. Louis already announced that minor-league star Jake Allen will be in the NHL next season, so there’s no room in the organization for Miller.
“It was additional payments necessary to Buffalo if we signed Ryan,” Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said during a news conference. “That would have been basically moving back a full round in the draft .... and we just felt at this time it was better for us to go with Elliott and Jake Allen.”
Miller, a pending unrestricted free agent, will likely hit the open market July 1. That would finalize the trade as Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis for forward Chris Stewart, goalie Jaroslav Halak, a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, a third-round pick in 2016 and prospect William Carrier. Halak was traded to Washington along with a 2015 third-round selection for goalie Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who declined to report to Buffalo.
One condition to the blockbuster deal between the Sabres and Blues remains – a St. Louis trade of Miller – so there’s a possibility the 2016 third-round pick sent to Buffalo could turn into something else.
However, there probably won’t be much trade demand for Miller since the few teams in need of a goalie could freely pursue him during the summer. Plus, the former face of the Sabres’ franchise had a rough time with the Blues, putting up a .903 save percentage in 19 regular-season games and just a .897 save percentage and 2.70 goals-against average in the playoffs as Chicago bounced St. Louis in the first round.
“We gave up quite a bit to get Ryan, and we felt as an organization that might be a piece that could push us deep and get us into the Stanley Cup and win us a Stanley Cup,” Armstrong said. “It didn’t work out that way, obviously.
“We took a calculated gamble of bringing in Ryan, and we didn’t have the success that we needed as an organization ... certainly not all reflective on Ryan. It’s a team game and as an organization we are responsible.”
If St. Louis trades Miller prior to the June 27 draft, the deal becomes the following: Buffalo sends Miller, Ott, a 2014 second-round pick originally belonging to Minnesota and a 2014 third-rounder to St. Louis for Stewart, Halak, Carrier, the 2015 first-rounder, the 2016 third-round selection plus a 2014 first-round pick. As Armstrong said, the Blues are loathe to give up another first-rounder to get a second-round selection.
If St. Louis were to trade Miller after it makes its first-round pick and before the start of free agency July 1, the trade would finalize as Miller and Ott to the Blues for Stewart, Halak, Carrier, the 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 second-round selection.
Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver could be in the market for Miller, who turns 34 this summer and is finishing a five-year, $31.25 million contract. The rebuilding Sabres seem content having Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth compete for the No. 1 job, so Miller’s return to Buffalo is highly unlikely.