Are the Minnesota Wild trading for Ryan Miller? Probably not.

Claus Andersen

There's been a lot of talk about the Wild potentially trading for Miller. We take a critically look at the "rumors" here

The news around the hockey world today is that Ryan Miller is being traded away from Buffalo in the near future. One site in particular has claimed that Chuck Fletcher has pitched an offer of  Dany Heatley, Charlie Coyle or Mikael Granlund and a 1st round pick for the goaltender.

Let's break down the likelihood that this trade would even have legs in Minnesota.

First, let's look at Minnesota's goaltender situation. Right now, the team has been dependent on young goaltender Darcy Kuemper to get them through a rough patch with Zach Parise (until recently), Mikko Koivu, Jared Spurgeon, and most importantly Josh Harding out.  Thankfully, the kid has been doing a fantastic job.

This brings us to Josh Harding. Harding has been playing fantastic while healthy this season, but the key word is healthy. The elephant in the room is his MS, and the likelihood that another GM will most likely be un-willing to take on Harding (especially with the struggles he's had with his medication recently). While it sucks for a goaltender who has proven himself time and time again when it comes to rehabilitating himself from injuries and illnesses, it is the situation he is in.

Then there is Niklas Backstrom, who's been moved from his guaranteed starting position to sitting back up for a 25 year old that until a few weeks ago most fans wanted to trade for a pair of pucks and some skate guards. Yes, he's getting older and clearly decline in productivity, but he also just signed a 3-year deal last summer.

As far as Ryan Miller goes, Ger has complied this chart with a few notes in order to summarize his career over the last few years:

Season (Criteria)

5v5 Sv%

Rank

2007-08 (750+ mins)

91.93%

26th of 51

2008-09 (750+ mins)

92.75%

15th of 53

2009-10 (750+ mins)

92.86%

10th of 54

2010-11 (750+ mins)

92.65%

22nd of 53

2011-12 (750+ mins)

92.61%

18th of 51

2012-13 (500+ mins)

92.44%

22nd of 53

2013-14 (500+ mins)

92.37%

28th of 58

Notes:

  • Miller's Sv% has declined each year since 2009-10. Research has shown that a goalie's prime tends to be around the age of 24-28. At age 33, it is more likely that Miller will continue to decline rather than returning to his form of old.
  • The excuse that his numbers aren't elite due to his team's lack of defensive ability doesn't hold any water, as his fellow Sabre Jhonas Enroth is having a fine season, as are the likes of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer who play in front of the Leafs defence, which is arguably worse than the Sabres. If playing in front of a tight defence improved a goalie's numbers, then the likes of Marty Brodeur, Niklas Backstrom, Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton wouldn't be posting the awful numbers they have done this season.

Frankly the Wild most likely are going to wait until the end of the Olympic break to make a decision about the goaltender situation. They have 17 of a possible 24 points in the month of January, which is amazing when you look at the players missing from the roster. They could miss getting points in any of the games from this point on and still finish at .500 from Jan 1st to the Olympic break. There's no sense in making a rash decision when they don't need to.

The supposed players being shipped out in this trade would be Dany Heatley, Mikael Granlund or Charlie Coyle, and a 1st round pick for 2014. There are a few very important things to consider when looking at this group of players.

First, contrary to popular belief and Capgeek.com, Dany Heatley does NOT have a No Trade Clause. This has been told to me directly from Russo. When Heatley was traded to Minnesota, he had a limited no trade clause that would require him to submit a list of 10 teams he wouldn't accept a trade to. His contract has not been reworked since that trade. (An article from SBN hockey has some more information on it from Darren Dreger here). This bring sup the question, would Heatly waive his LTC to head to Buffalo. Probably not.

Second, as @ice_and_field pointed out during this afternoon's twitter discussion, would the Wild really trade away on of the centers they are relying on with Koivu out? Whether you think Coyle and/or Granlund are going to be franchise players, if they were to be traded it leaves a gaping hole in the top 6 with no one to step in. If the Wild are scratching Jason Zucker, they certainly aren't going to put him in the top 6 right now. There's no one within the organization that can step in and fill the spots left by sending Heatley and Coyle or Granlund away.

This also brings up the fact that this trade absolutely does not solve any of the issues currently facing the team. They are having an issue with goal scoring and puck possession. Trading two forwards for a goalie will only make these issues worse. If Fletcher was unwilling to mortgage the future for Thomas Vanek this season, he absolutely won't do it for Ryan Miller.

Finally, we get the draft pick. The Wild gave up their 1st round pick to Buffalo last season and spent most of the time leading up to the draft trying to get their hands on another one. There is no way they are going to give up another first round pick, especially for the 2nd year in the row.

This rumored "trade" has very little credibility to it. Michael Russo and Bob McKenzie have both come out and said that this isn't happening. As a matter of fact, this story seems eerily reminiscent of the time where someone who had no ties to the organization or anyone in it claimed that they Wild were leaving Minnesota because they lost money during the lockout.

EDIT: I spoke with Heatley's agent this afternoon to clarify what his contract is since it's been mis-reported all over the place the last few years. Directly from his agent, Heatley has a NMC (which only means he can't be sent to the minors without his consent), as well as modified trade clause. If the Wild were looking to trade him, he's allowed to make a list of 10 teams he won't accept a trade to (same as his contract was in SJ).

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