Guest Post: Sabres ready to trade Miller? If they want a cup, it may be for the better.
This is a guest post written by a good friend of mine named Arun Morace. He is a journalism student at Hofstra and an avid sports fan. An analyst by nature and an antagonist by definition, Arun’s insightful view of sports helps fuel his knack for great sports writing. I received an email from him today that read as follows:
I wrote this real quick today; maybe you can take a look at it, or print it out and smack me in the face with it the next time we play hockey if you think it sucks.
Here is what Arun sent me… Enjoy!
News of the Sabres’ recent multi-year deal with backup goalie Jhonas Enroth has to have people begging the question: Are the Buffalo Sabres getting ready to deal franchise goaltender Ryan Miller? Enroth was superb in limited action last year, posting a 9-2-2 record, with his first three wins coming in the shootout (an NHL record), and with one of those wins being a 1-0 blanking of the playoff-bound New York Rangers. Maybe the Sabres liked what they saw, and are prepared to lean on him while using Miller a bargaining chip to upgrade the team as a whole.
The Sabres cannot win the Stanley Cup by relying on Miller alone, which is the doomed strategy they’ve employed in the years since losing Chris Drury and Danny Briere. The last line of defense can only win you so many games. The back end has been fortified in recent years, with the emergence of Tyler Myers and the acquisitions of Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff, but the offense remains stagnant, as only Thomas Vanek finished the season ranked amongst the top 20 scorers.
So, perhaps it’s time for Buffalo to deal Miller, while he’s still at the top of his game, and acquire a dependable, high
scoring forward or two in exchange for him. Because, while the Sabres came close to a championship with Miller, getting to the Eastern Conference Finals twice in his time as the starting netminder; history shows that goaltenders are rarely the key cog of a championship team. Sabres fans have seen this before. Dominik Hasek was voted the best goalie in the league six times while he played for Buffalo in the mid ‘90s/early 2000’s, but not once did the Sabres win a Stanley Cup in his tenure. Only two teams from the past twenty-two years (the 2003 New Jersey Devils and the 2011 Boston Bruins) have had a Vezina-trophy winning goaltender also lead them to a Stanley Cup Championship.
Additionally, only one team (the 2011 Bruins) in the past six years of the new high-scoring, post-lockout NHL has won a Stanley Cup without a player who was in the top ten in scoring. It should be noted, however, that the 2011 Bruins did have eight players break the 40 point barrier in the regular season, giving credence to the fact that they relied on a balanced offensive attack, not on one or two offensive superstars.
Flat out, you win hockey games by outscoring the other team. Even Boston, the one team that won a Stanley Cup with both a Vezina goalie and without a top-10 scoring player, outscored Vancouver 21-3 in the four games they won in the Stanley Cup Finals (roughly five goals a game when it mattered most). Teams need offense to win. If the Sabres want to claim the first Stanley Cup title in their 41 year history, maybe it’s time to break the habits of old and go after a player who can lead the league in goals, not goals-against average.