By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 7: February 28, 2014 – The Sabres trade Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a first-round draft choice in 2015, and a third-round draft choice in 2016.
The Sabres had fallen to the bottom of the NHL during the 2013-14 season. They were destined to finish with only 52 points, but along the way they had a major question to answer. Should they keep star goaltender Ryan Miller, who had been the face of the franchise for the past several years, or move him before the trading deadline?
Team president Pat LaFontaine reportedly wanted to re-sign Miller and not let him escape as a free agent. General manager Tim Murray wanted to deal Miller to collect some prospects as part of the rebuilding program. Murray apparently won the argument, as Miller and Steve Ott were shipped to St. Louis for three players and two picks. The Sabres really were starting over in terms of their roster.
But the drama wasn’t over. The next day, LaFontaine – who had appointed Murray to his job in the first place – resigned from the presidency of the Sabres. That left Murray firmly in charge of hockey operations. We still don’t know for sure if LaFontaine resigned his job in protest, or what else might have been involved in that process. And we don’t know what would have happened had Miller and LaFontaine stayed put.
We do know that the new players did little good for the Sabres, that Buffalo finished last in 2014-15 as well, and the franchise still hasn’t played a postseason game since the trade was made. By the way, Miller only spent part of a season in St. Louis, and landed in Vancouver that summer.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)