With the salary cap strangling most of the league — 11 teams have no space, and another nine have less than $2 million to play with — the trade market has been sluggish, but intriguing rumors keep bubbling. Twelve scouts attended Buffalo’s game on Tuesday night–not surprising considering the yard sale the Sabres are setting up–but the team that might be watching them the closest was at the other end of the ice.
No matter how well Jaroslav Halak has played for St. Louis (and to be fair, he was great on Thursday night in Boston), there’s a sense that he’s more like long relief than the closer. Ryan Miller, arguably the best goalie in the league this year, might be the guy who can get the Blues over the hump.
Now you have to think the Sabres have made/will make an effort to convince Miller to stick around now that there’s new management in place. If that fails–and assume it will because it’s hard to imagine him wanting to stick around for a rebuild at his age (33)–the Blues make some sense.
St. Louis does have a couple of intriguing prospects in Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie, and one of them could be key to getting a deal done. The trick for the Blues will be the cap. St. Louis is only $396,859 under the ceiling. Miller’s hit is $6.25 million, so even if the Blues included Halak and his expiring $3.75 million hit, they still wouldn’t have enough room. That means the Sabres would have to be willing to eat some money as they did in the deal that sent Thomas Vanek to the Islanders last month, and for the right prospect/package, they might.
Then we have the Rangers and Stars. I noticed that there were no scouts in attendance on Thursday night when Dallas hosted the New York, and that seemed kind of odd. First, because the Stars have been regularly bird-dogged this season, with three-to-five interested observers on hand for most of their games. And second, because both teams have a player who appears to be up for grabs.