By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) On Friday night, the St. Louis Blues acquired goaltender Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, forward William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick. The Sabres will also acquire the Blues’ 2014 first-round pick should St. Louis reach the Western Conference Finals or if Miller re-signs with the Blues. The Sabres are also paying the difference in the salaries, so financially the trade is a wash.
In Miller, the Blues are getting one of the top goaltenders in the league. He’s posted phenomenal numbers tending goal for a dumpster fire of a hockey team in the Buffalo Sabres. Halak and Miller’s numbers look similar (.923 and .922 save percentages respectively), but Halak had the advantage in playing for a far superior team.
Ott is one of the league’s most physical, intimidating and effective agitators. He plays right on the edge of dirty and clean — and often crosses the line. I wouldn’t expect that to change now that he’s in St. Louis. The Blues are notorious for taking liberties with star players, and that won’t stop with Ott, who was the Sabres’ captain and is an effective hockey player. This season, he has nine goals and 11 assists to go with his 194 hits and 55 PIMS.
This is a very good deal for both teams. The Blues, who I considered 1B to the Blackhawks’ 1A in the Western Conference, just got significantly better, while the Sabres acquired two solid NHL players, a nice prospect and at least two draft picks.
With the March 5 NHL trade deadline coming next week, it will be interesting to see if Chicago general manager Stan Bowman responds to this trade with a move of his own. He’s has never been one to panic, and I wouldn’t expect that to change, despite the Blues’ upgrade.
Bowman has already professed his satisfaction with the team’s current construction. A rival making a trade should not change that opinion, but if there’s a move that makes sense for the Hawks, Bowman won’t be afraid to pull the trigger. It’s nearly impossible to list trade targets for the Hawks at this point, considering their cap situation, but Bowman has been a cap magician in the past.Look no further than the Kris Versteeg trade, where Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers took on a huge chunk of the winger’s contract.
It will take similar maneuvering if the Hawks are to add an impact player by March 5.
Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.