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The following is a brief list of Sabres’ players that I believe hold the most value in today’s NHL market:
Ryan Miller – G – The Sabres’ netminder began the 2011-2012 season at a less than remarkable pace and currently sits at a career worst 2.88 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. However, nobody can argue that Miller has turned his play up as of late to a level that Sabres fans have been used to seeing in the past.
In his last four starts, Miller has demonstrated his ability to still play at an all-pro level, posting a respectable goals-against average of 1.17 and a save percentage of .962 while registering one shutout over that time.
One might argue that Miller is showcasing his talents in hopes of being traded to a more skilled team with a better chance to make it to the Cup this year. Supporters of Miller staying in Buffalo, however, would be lead to believe that Miller is simply performing at the level he once did on a nightly basis in hopes of remaining as the face of the Buffalo franchise.
With Detroit’s Jimmy Howard being placed on the injured reserve until the end of February with a broken finger, it wouldn’t be too unlikely to think that Miller might be keen on the idea of returning to his hometown state of Michigan to play for a superstar laden Red Wing team.
Other teams that could use a former Vezina trophy winning goaltender include, but a certainly not limited to, the Anaheim Ducks, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Philadelphia flyers.
Tyler Myers –D – Nobody from the Sabres franchise has more upside than Tyler Myers, plain and simple. The former Calder Trophy winner (2010) would be a gigantic (both literally and figuratively) addition to any NHL team’s defensive corp.
Myers missed 19 games this season with a broken wrist from the end of November until the first week of January.
Throughout this time, the Sabres only recorded a total of six wins. With Myers in the lineup this season, the Sabres are 15-15-2 (Myers missed a game against Montreal on November 14 after being benched by Ruff for subpar play against Boston on November 12 in which he went -3).
It is no doubt that the Sabres are a much better team with Myers in the lineup. If provided with the proper system, coaching, and defensive partner, Myers could easily become one of the best defensemen in the NHL.
His ability to rush the puck and take charge (although it hasn’t been showcased much this season) is among the likes of some of the best offensive D-men, while his stay-at-home defensive awareness still has room for improvement.
The 6’8” man-child could develop to be a Chara-like presence on any team looking to make a run either this year or in the near future with time and some strength coaching.
Myers signed a contract entering this season that will earn him $5.5 million each season throughout the end of 2018, which could prove to be a bargain for any team looking for a top defenseman, should Myers reach his full potential as an NHL player.
Paul Gaustad – C –While Gaustad’s toughness and team devotion were debated earlier in the season when teammate Ryan Miller was run by Boston’s Milan Lucic, it’s safe to say that was merely an isolated incident.
Gaustad was left speechless when asked by reporters after the game about why he didn’t respond to Lucic, and soon followed up by dropping his gloves against the Bruin winger early on in their next matchup. Although Gaustad did not win the fight, he proved that he isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with even the toughest players in the league.
Having never tallied more than 12 goals in a season, Goose’s offensive abilities have always been questioned. However, Gaustad’s true value lies in his ability to play defense in his own zone, particularly on the penalty kill.
The recently turned 30-year-old center is arguably one of the best penalty killers in the NHL and would be an extremely solid addition to any team looking to beef up their penalty killing unit. Gaustad rarely loses battles along the boards, isn’t afraid to drop to the ice to block a shot, and is an ace at winning faceoffs.
His faceoff win percentage only registers at 55.6% which is slightly lower than it has been in years past (last year: 59.8%-3rd in the league; the year before: 57.4%-6th in the league), however, he has often been Lindy Ruff’s go-to guy in the circle.
Gaustad will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, so don’t be surprised if a team looking to strengthen their third or fourth line (and their PK) looks to add his $2.3 million salary to their payroll for the remainder of the year as they continue their trek towards Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail.