As your would expect, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong earned rave reviews for making the long-awaited Ryan Miller trade.
This team wants to win a Stanley Cup and goaltending is everything come playoff time. Jaroslav Halak has had great stretches in his NHL career, but his habit of allowing bad goals and suffering untimely injuries finally did him in as a Blue.
Brian Elliott got his chance to be a playoff hero here and failed. Armstrong knew that his goaltending situation wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough either.
Miller was the obvious fit – and the whole hockey world knew it. So Halak shuffles off to Buffalo, at least for the time being.
While Armstrong was wheeling and dealing, he added a classic playoff-caliber forward in Steve Ott while offloading Chris Stewart, who has been just taking up space both in the lineup and the payroll.
(Stewart is under contract for next season at $4.2 million. While that is a plus for teams unwilling to trade for mere rentals, it was an issue for the Blues. This franchise would rather allocate that money to re-sign more important players.)
Armstrong got all this done without moving prized young forwards Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie – the sorts of players the rebuilding Sabres could really use. Armstrong did give up a first-round pick in 2015 and potentially the top pick in 2014 as well, should the Blues reach the NHL’s Final Four this year and/or Miller re-signs with the Blues.
But with those young core players still in hand, Armstrong was more than willing to make that sacrifice.
This was a win-win deal for the Blues for this spring. What happens down the road will be interesting, given Miller’s advanced age and outsized expectations for his next contract.
Jake Allen may yet be the future of Blues goaltending.
In the meantime the Blues are going for it and the Sabres gained two more assets the franchise can flip for prospects and/or draft picks before the trade deadline.