enroth

As the NHL Draft approaches, the trade winds will be blowing at full force. There could be more transactions like the Regehr, Carter or Richards trades from a year ago and there is even a chance that picks are exchanged for teams to move up.

Amidst all the chatter about the Sabres moving up in the draft, or acquiring the elite center they so badly need, there has only been a few names circulated to be leaving Buffalo. However, I think that Jhonas Enroth should be someone that is considered as a prime piece of any trade proposal coming out of Buffalo.

In fact, if the return were right, Ryan Miller wouldn’t be a terrible player to explore either. Regardless, the player I would target is Enroth.

I have my own reasons for needing to keep Ryan Miller around, the main one being that a franchise goaltender is indeed necessary to succeed in the NHL. This is a point proven by this year’s playoffs. Only Mike Smith could act as a true exception to the rule.

The reason I hold onto Miller is two-fold. First, he is fully capable of carrying the Sabres for an extended period. He proved that in spades after January 1 last season. I fully suspect that he did not fully recover from his concussion/neck issues until the end of the winter. The second reason is that I doubt very much that Miller could bring you the return you need.

I read through Bucky’s GM for a Day piece and completely disagree that Ryan Malone would be adequate return for Miller. Malone makes about $2M less than Miller, but I don’t see him as a great fit for what the Sabres are hoping to do. Yes, he is a power forward, but at $4.5M I don’t think his production matches his salary. IN addition, he is not the center the Sabres need at the moment. Trading Miller for Malone would mean you need to pull off another blockbuster for a number one center.

I do recognize Gleason’s argument about Miller’s numbers, but his 2011-12 was a tale of two seasons. It wasn’t 82 games of 2.50 GAA and .915 SV%. His true potential is better than that, but probably not at the 2.00 and .930 neighborhood. Miller will continue to allow between 2-3 goals on most nights, but he will continue to contribute in moments when the Sabres need him.

You may want to flame me out for appearing to be an ardent Miller defender, but that isn’t the point I’m trying to make. Simply put, he plays to an elite level on many a night although his numbers may not necessarily reflect that.

The market on starting goaltenders is fuzzy. Trades involving number one goalies don’t occur very often. This makes the potential for moving Miller or Roberto Luongo quite difficult. The pair will still yield a hefty return, but it will not be a collection of picks, prospects and rostered players. Whether or not any teams are willing to ante up is a completely other story.

If there is a market and adequate return for Miller, then I would be all for trading him. If trading Miller, Thomas Vanek, Tyler Myers or anyone else will bring the Sabres the success they seek, then make the trade.

I could only see the Blue Jackets, Oilers or Blackhawks showing interest in Miller. Although I imagine only the Blackhawks would make the cut on Miller’s limited trade list. Based on a thin market for elite or top goaltenders, I see Jhonas Enroth as a more likely trade piece.

There is no secret that the Sabres need a center and I think that pursuing Alex Galchenyuk would be the best course of action. The rumored availability of Jordan Staal is intriguing to me as well, but if I could choose between the two, I would go with Glachenyuk.

To get Glachenyuk means trading up to at least the third pick in the draft or, more likely, the second. Considering the Blue Jackets are in desperate need of a goalie, Enroth could sway a trade with Columbus.

Now, Enroth may not necessarily be the player the Blue Jackets need, but he is in the territory of other young backups like Jonathon Bernier or, as recent history has shown, Anders Lindback. Since so many teams are searching for young goaltending prospects, Enroth could certainly fit the bill.

Scott Howson was burned badly by Philadelphia when he basically traded the pick that became Sean Couturier for Jeff Carter. He would be foolish to get burned again in a similar situation.

If there was any opportunity to pull off such a massive trade, I would imagine the package would include each of Buffalo’s first round picks (12 and 21) along with a top prospect or roster player. Whether Luke Adam, Derek Roy or another player gets the deal done is a difficult quandary. Just getting Howson to offer the pick will be hard enough.

The only chance such a package would have is if Howson saw more return in a pair of picks (versus one) in addition to a goaltender and an NHL-ready forward. Where I see this coming off the rails is finding a forward capable of completing the deal. Buffalo doesn’t have someone of Jeff Carter’s caliber. Of course, having Enroth on the table could also sweeten the pot. At this point saying this is guesswork is a massive understatement.

However, based on the logic that the market for an established goaltender is dry would indicate that Enroth will provide the Sabres the groundwork for the player they truly seek.

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