The 2013 NHL regular season has almost reached the halfway mark, and the trade rumors surrounding the league’s top stars have created a serious buzz.
According to a recent report from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, blockbuster trades involving players such as Buffalo’s Ryan Miller and New York’s Michael Del Zotto have been discussed.
Add in the recent chatter about the Carolina Hurricanes looking to make major moves, and the buzz around the latest batch of rumors from Garrioch has reached a fever pitch.
Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres have undergone a complete franchise overhaul over the last year, changing personnel behind the scenes and on the ice, and veteran goalie Ryan Miller may not be part of the team’s long-term plans.
If the Sabres don’t envision re-signing the impending unrestricted free agent, trading him at the deadline would be the organization’s best option.
Garrioch is reporting at least three teams have expressed interest in a deal:
Three teams in the West have shown interest in Buffalo G Ryan Miller. It’s believed the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and, possibly as a long shot, the Anaheim Ducks have at least sniffed to see what the asking price is for Miller. The Blues make the most sense and the Blackhawks may be looking for depth behind Corey Crawford. A lot is going to depend on injuries and what happens to some contending teams. Miller’s value will be highest at the March deadline.
Following the team's loss to Ottawa on Dec. 12, Miller touched on the team's inability to play well in all phases, per John Vogl of the Buffalo News:
Sabres' Ryan Miller after 2-1 loss to Ottawa: "It was one of our better efforts, honestly. ... We just couldn’t quite get it all to click."— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) December 13, 2013
Buffalo has been flat-out terrible this season, and the lack of defensive prowess in front of Miller isn’t helping his case. With only six wins in 23 starts this season and a 2.91 goals-against average, the Sabres have left the veteran out to dry.
Last week, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News shared his thoughts on the matter and pondered an appropriate holiday gift for Miller:
Ryan Miller has to be Team USA's No. 1. He's got a 2.95 GAA & .920 save pct even though he's just 6-16. Get him some goals for Xmas!!— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) December 11, 2013
Miller’s .921 save percentage is proof that he still has the talent to be a No. 1 netminder, but he must find his way to a franchise with a solid defensive mindset. A possible deal could come to fruition as soon as a team compiles a package enticing enough to persuade the Sabres.
Michael Del Zotto, D, New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have struggled to stay in postseason contention this season. As the trade deadline becomes a topic of conversation, the calls have started, and that includes inquiries for defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
According to Garrioch, the Colorado Avalanche are interested in Del Zotto:
Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has been scouring the market looking for a blueliner. Colorado isn’t happy with the mix it has among its defensemen and the club knows it has to make changes to compete in the playoffs. It’s believed the Avs have shown interest in Rangers D Michael Del Zotto, but the club has made it clear it wants a top-four defenseman in return and Colorado doesn’t have that kind of real estate to offer up.
The Eastern Conference standings are tightly packed this season. With only seven points separating fifth from 13th, New York could go on a winning streak and easily make the playoffs or lose several games in a row before fighting for last in the division.
Del Zotto is a valuable piece to the future of the Rangers organization, but if Colorado or another franchise could find a deal enticing enough to get New York to bite, this could be the addition that strengthens the core of each team moving forward.
Moving Del Zotto would be the white flag for this season’s Stanley Cup aspirations, so fans shouldn’t expect the move to happen until the deadline is almost upon us, if the rumored deal even comes to fruition.
Carolina Hurricanes Looking to Make a Splash?
The Carolina Hurricanes weren’t expected to be much of a force in the Eastern Conference, but after 34 games, the franchise sits in eighth place and in position to fight for a postseason berth.
Per Garrioch’s report, Carolina and its general manager Jim Rutherford are looking to make a splash before the deadline:
The Hurricanes are pushing for a playoff spot in the East, but Rutherford would like to make changes. The three names we’ve heard the most: D Tim Gleason, LW Jiri Tlusty and RW Tuomo Ruutu. Keep an eye on Rutherford because he has never been afraid to make changes
The report also makes it clear that, “C Eric Staal, C Jordan Staal, LW Jeff Skinner or G Cam Ward” are not available in a deal, but almost anyone else on the roster is on the block. The trade market is quiet right now, but as the deadline approaches, more teams will begin selling top players.
Carolina has several trade pieces that would be intriguing to sellers, but whether the Hurricanes will be buyers themselves will be determined by the play of the team over the next month.
If the franchise falls out of contention, the chances of a fire sale grow exponentially.