THN asks: Would Ryan Miller for Paul Stastny make sense? We answer: No. No it wouldn't.


Note, the following article and commentary come from THN's recent rumor report that said "not to be surprised" if the Sabres and Avalanche swapped Ryan Miller for Paul Stastny. Seeing as this was the 426th time we've seen this rumor, we thought it past due to finally put it to rest. Comments in bold are our own.

Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller are eligible for unrestricted free agency next July, so naturally their names are frequently appearing in this summer's trade rumors.

As they have been for the past three offseasons. But let's hear some more hot takes just for kicks.

Sportnet's Josh Rimer recently reported he'd been told to not be surprised if the Avalanche shipped Stastny to the Sabres for Miller.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Avalanche shipped Stastny to any other team either, since it seems like they've been trying to get rid of him for the better part of this decade.

The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla enthusiastically embraced the notion, imploring Avalanche executive VP of hockey operations Joe Sakic (the club's de facto GM) to "go get Miller".

Kind of like the way Bucky annually "implored" Darcy to go get Sheldon Souray?

Kiszla's colleague Adrian Dater, however, subsequently cited "reputable sources" (likely from the Avalanche) dismissing the Stastny-for-Miller speculation.

Well then.

At first glance (at this point, we're on like the eighth glance, but whatever) a Stastny-for-Miller trade seems sensible. The Sabres would land an experienced first-line center, while the Avalanche would bolster their goaltending with a Vezina Trophy winner.

This trade sets up both teams for a great run in 2010.

Their salaries (Stastny will earn $6.6 million this season and Miller $6.25 million) are comparable and wouldn't hamper a potential deal.

One glaring problem, however, is the uncertainty over the respective futures of both players. Unless they are willing to ink contract extensions, the Sabres and Avalanche risk losing them to free agency next summer.

Hey, thanks for shooting one of the holes in your own argument for me!

Another issue would be what to do with the current Avalanche goalie tandem of Semyon Varlamov and J-S Giguere. One of them would have to be dealt, either packaged with Stastny or in a separate trade.

JSG has one year left at $1.5 million. Shouldn't be too hard to take care of.

The Avalanche's biggest problem last season wasn't their goaltending, but their porous defense, which wasn't suitably addressed this summer.

Miller also struggled over the past two years behind the Sabres declining defense, so there's no guarantee joining another team with an equally shaky blueline will improve his game.

So tell me again why the Avs want to give up their #1 center for an aging goaltender who probably won't improve his game behind a terrible blueline?

Should the Avalanche shop Stastny during the upcoming season, they would be better off seeking a return that bolsters their defense.

This article caught my attention because I'm sick to death of the Miller/Statsny/Ryan/Spezza rumor train that's somehow stayed in motion for going on three years. But while it reasonably addresses why the Avs might want (or not want) Miller, what this fails to do is make any compelling argument why the Sabres would have interest in Paul Stastny.

The general logic behind the (old) argument is that the Avs have too many centers, and the Sabres need some. The problem with this argument is that over the past few seasons, the Sabres have acquired Cody Hodgson, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Ville Leino, and Steve Ott, and found out that Tyler Ennis plays a pretty mean pivot as well.

Additionally, the team has committed to a full organizational rebuild, changing their draft strategy to target bigger, talented centers and trading away their high-priced veterans for young talent and draft picks. Darcy Regier has publicly stated that he wants a team that can grow together under new head coach Ron Rolston. Stastny will be turning 28 next season, and while that's by no means the end of his career, he probably won't be getting any better over the next few seasons.

In fact, we have some data to back that up - over the last four years, Stastny's points-per-game (PPG) has fallen from 0.975 to 0.770 to 0.671 to 0.600. His numbers might bounce back on a new team with a new coach, but do you want to take that gamble on a player whose contract runs out next season?

Our friends at Mile High Hockey estimated that Stastny would command something like a 5-year, $25 million contract when he becomes a UFA. That's a lot of money for someone whose 0.600 PPG last season would translate to just 49 points over a full campaign. Sure, you could take a gamble that he'll return to his 79-point season of 2009-10, but that's a big gamble to take with one of the Sabres' biggest assets.

If the Sabres are going to trade Ryan Miller, they should do so with the intention of following their rebuilding plan. A player like Stastny doesn't fit into that plan, and the numbers show that his best years are likely behind him. His name isn't going away, just as Miller's and Vanek's aren't either, but let's make sure we think these things through from both sides.

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