NHL Trade Rumors: Potential Landing Places for Top Names on Block

Tyler Duma@@TylerDuma_BRFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2013

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 19: Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres looks to the scoreboard before leaving the ice after the first period in the game againt the Colorado Avalanche on October 19, 2013 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bill Wippert/Getty Images

The 2013 NHL season may be young, but that doesn't stop trade rumors. In fact, some of the league's biggest names have already found their way into the rumor mill.

Teams at the bottom of the barrel will look to bolster their stock for 2013 and years after, by making trades in order to secure young players and draft picks, in an effort to change the direction of their team. Conversely, teams at or around the top will look to make one trade that could put them over the top in 2013.

This article will focus on three of the biggest names on the trading block, while assessing where the players could land in possible trades. We'll kick it off with current Buffalo Sabre and Team USA captain Ryan Miller.

Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo Sabres

Ryan Miller is arguably the hottest name on the NHL trading block.

The 33-year-old goaltender has been stuck in Buffalo for all 11 of his NHL seasons, on a Sabres team that routinely allows him to get pounded with shots against. Dating back to the 2007-08 season and including the 2013-14 season, Miller has ranked in the NHL's top 10 in shots against six times.

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Even so, the veteran goalie accumulated a top-10 save percentage in two of those six seasons and owns a career .915 save percentage—good for 11th best all-time.

A recent rumor, reported by CBSSports.com's Brian Stubits, indicates that there could be mutual interest in striking a deal between the Sabres and Edmonton Oilers. Stubits suggests that the Sabres could net 2012's No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov in exchange for Miller and left-winger Thomas Vanek.

Neither team is very good this year; in fact, both teams rank last in their respective divisions. Despite all of that, this trade has some merit.

Miller holds a partial no-trade clause, and the list of teams he can void a trade to includes the Oilers.

Even so, sending Vanek to Edmonton along with Miller could provide the veteran with a sense of continuity, enough so that he could waive that no-trade clause. Additionally, according to Sports.ru's Igor Eronko, the Oilers have some potential motivation to move their young star. 

Though it seems like a limited possibility at this point, if Edmonton is willing to offer up Yakupov in a trade, then Miller could end up an Oiler this season. Edmonton has a need at the position, as indicated by the team's .878 save percentage.

Thomas Vanek, LW, Buffalo Sabres

As mentioned above, it's become increasingly likely that the Sabres will move Thomas Vanek.

Vanek, a nine-year veteran, owns a career +/- of 27, to go along with per-82 game averages of 34.8 goals, 33.3 assists and 68 points. The 29-year-old winger has been a terror on the ice, tallying 46 goals in 117 career games against teams from the Western Conference.

Thomas Vanek could find a new home in 2013.
Thomas Vanek could find a new home in 2013./Getty Images

In the article referenced above, Stubits outlined a possible trade of Vanek and Miller to Edmonton, but a more likely fit for Vanek is Philadelphia. Scott Hartnell of Philly.com noted that the Flyers lack a sniper in a recent article.

This hole in the Flyers roster is evident in their paltry goals scored total in the 2013 season—just 11 scored through eight games. Vanek, on the other hand, has gotten off to a solid start, scoring three goals and four assists in 11 games this season.

Hartnell also points out that Vanek would benefit from his familiarity with left-winger Michael Raffl—the two played together on the Austrian National Team in the 2013 IIHF World Championship.

The Flyers have the prospects to make a deal happen and look to be a solid fit for Vanek.

Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers, RW

Whether Nail Yakupov is a part of the Ryan Miller to Edmonton deal outlined above has yet to be seen, but it's highly likely that Yakupov could be on the move in 2013. 

The 20-year-old Russian is in just his second NHL season, but as seen in the Igor Eronko tweet above, he may already be growing tired of it. Additionally, Yakupov has struggled slightly in his adjustments to the NHL.

According to ESPN.com Insider Craig Custance—subscription required—Yakupov is growing frustrated with his time spent on the ice, and it could cause a rift between he and head coach Dallas Eakins.

For those reasons, Yakupov is a prime trade candidate. 

As it stands, Buffalo looks like the biggest contender to land the young star. Edmonton, as mentioned above, has a huge need in goal.

Their current duo has combined for a .878 save percentage, and their 3.90 goals allowed per game is the second worst total in the league—via NHL.com. With the Sabres looking to shop goalie Ryan Miller, a fit is there, so long as Miller is willing to waive his no-trade clause.

Stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.