We're at the midway point of the season, and it's time for NHL teams to either make a move for the playoffs or sell off some assets that aren't fitting.
The Buffalo Sabres have Ryan Miller, a world-class goaltender whose confidence has been bruised after getting run in the crease, but lack a true number one center. The Anaheim Ducks have a surplus of top-flight forwards but lack a Top 10 goaltender.
Clearly there can be a deal of some sort struck here. I wouldn't suggest a straight Miller-for-Getzlaf or Miller-for-Ryan trade, but both lineups could use more of a strike.
I think a blockbuster, multiplayer deal would change the face of both teams and provide a shock wave to an otherwise lackluster NHL season. And doing it during NFL playoff time would grab some publicity when the NHL is being ignored.
First, let's look at Buffalo.
The Sabres haven't had a single more important player to their lineup than Miller, since Dominik Hasek took the team to the Stanley Cup. He was even more important to the sport of hockey when he carried Team USA to a surprise silver medal at the Olympics in Vancouver.
Now, until Jhonas Enroth emerged as a more-than-capable starter, this would've been seen as an impossibility. But Enroth seems to have arrived.
Combine that with Miller lacking confidence in his team since his concussion (caused by Milan Lucic), and the fact that his wife (Noureen DeWulf) is an actress who lives and works in Southern California, and it makes sense.
The Sabres also have a deep need for a top center. Their centers include Derek Roy, Cody McCormick, Paul Gaustad and Luke Adam. At best, Derek Roy is a low-level second center, and Adam is a third.
Don't forget that their wings include Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Brad Boyes, Ville Leino, Drew Stafford, Jochen Hecht, Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis. The talents of these fine wings are being wasted.
Only two of them, Vanek and Pominville, are having solid seasons, and that can most likely be attributed to Vanek putting together a complete game for the first time in his career.
Then you look at the Ducks. They have a stockpile of outstanding centers. Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf have both been mentioned in rumors and are said to be available. Talents like those at the center position don't become available very often.
Vice versa, the Ducks lack talent in the crease. After a few solid seasons by Jonas Hiller, he now seems to have regressed to mediocrity. He's backed up at the moment by journeyman Jeff Deslauriers, as the Ducks have also used Dan Ellis to try and find some traction at the position.
Both of these teams are clearly out of the playoffs, with the Sabres sitting 11th in the East and the Ducks at 14th.
The Ducks clearly have the rougher row to hoe. As usual, the West is deeper throughout the conference, so would it be worth it for them? The Sabres could absolutely make an immediate push with an upgrade at the center position, especially with the teams ahead of them struggling—teams like Pittsburgh, Washington, Toronto, and the upstart Winnipeg Jets.
I would have to suspect that most of the Sabres team, with the exception of Vanek and Tyler Myers, are available. They both have to be considered franchise cornerstones, especially Myers.
That would still provide some flexibility on their part. Buffalo even has players like Zack Kassian, T.J. Brennan and Drew Scheistel down in Rochester, who could either be included or called up.
From the Ducks' perspective, they can look at it either as a chance to make a push, or rebuild. They have some solid pieces, but they also have players like Teemu Selanne, Jason Blake and Saku Koivu, who are either past their prime or approaching that area.
May I propose a trade? Let's say the Ducks get Ryan Miller, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. That gives them a franchise goaltender, a second-line center and the unrealized potential of Drew Stafford.
In turn, the Sabres would receive Ryan Getzlaf, Niklas Hagman, Dan Ellis and a second-round pick. It's difficult to say that Getzlaf is equal to Miller, so I'll throw in a second-round pick. Getzlaf makes Vanek an elite goal scorer as soon as he dons the Sabres sweater.
Now is the time to make a trade—especially for the Sabres—before the season slips away.