The trade that everyone in Buffalo was talking about, at least until Pat LaFontaine resigned/was fired, was the deal that sent Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis. It’s the biggest trade in recent history for the Sabres and you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger blockbuster in the past 15-20 years for the Sabres.
We asked David Rogers, the Managing Editor of the St. Louis Blues blog Frozen Notes and Bloguin's hockey blog Puck Drunk Love, to swing by and share some thoughts about the deal and the pieces that came back to Buffalo. You can follow him on Twitter @FrozenNotes.
CO: This was a trade that most fans in Buffalo understood was coming. So while the shock value was somewhat decreased, it’s still tough to see the face of your franchise moved along with the current captain. What was the reaction like in St. Louis when it became clear that Miller and Ott would be coming?
DS: Overall, the reaction was extremely positive. The deal was surprising, but considering it had been rumored for months, I wouldn't say it was a total shock. Many fans were in disbelief simply because all of the rumors actually panned out. On the other hand, there was a vocal minority opposing Steve Ott. If I had to break it down, I'd say 85% were overjoyed, 10% were happy but didn't believe the Blues needed to make the trade and should have addressed other areas and another 5% which were vocally against Ott coming to St. Louis.
CO: With all the speculation that surrounded the trade, what was your opinion on how things were playing out? Were you looking forward to potentially adding Miller or were you comfortable with Halak and Elliott?
DS: Miller is a great addition, however I'll always wonder what would have been had the Blues stuck with Halak and Elliott. The two were in the top-10 in GAA, yet confidence in Halak remained low. To be fair, Halak never really had a chance to prove himself in the playoffs. He only suited up in two postseason games. While I believe Miller is an upgrade for the playoffs, I think Halak (a healthy Halak) would have performed better than most would have predicted.
Personally, I was comfortable, but I know that opinion wasn't a common one.
CO: The Blues certainly gave a lot to get a lot. Which team do you think won the trade?
DS: Ask me again in 5-7 years. As with any trade which involves prospects and picks, it's impossible to pick an immediate winner. However, I do think the price was steep. It also hinges on whether Miller signs a new deal with St. Louis. If he walks, the trade is a huge failure. If he stays and leads the Blues to their first Cup at some point during his career, I'd call it an overwhelming success.
CO: Buffalo ends up with St. Louis’ first round pick this year if the Blues advance to the conference finals. Do you expect the Blues to make the conference finals based on the addition?
DS: I'd certainly hope so, but I wouldn't be surprised if they stumbled. While Miller should be an upgrade, the Blues may lose their offensive touch when it matters most (as has been the case in previous campaigns) and crash out. A lot of fans believed the Blues needed another top-6 forward who can produce consistent offense. Defensively the Blues are arguably the best in the NHL, but offense may be difficult to find during a difficult playoff run.
CO: Outside of the draft picks, the Sabres do end up with two forwards from this deal. What can you tell me about Chris Stewart?
DS: I wrote an article about this very topic. It's called – Chris Stewart: So Talented, So Inconsistent.
Stewart is one of the most frustrating players I've ever watched. When he's hot, he's one of the best pure scorers in the league. When he's cold, he's a disaster. He's worse than nonexistent. He'll score five goals in three games, but he'll follow that up with two to three weeks of play where you're left screaming at your TV. He lacks hustle and motivation.
CO: Stewart’s streakiness is well known. What is it that you think brings out the best and worst in him? Should we expect an explosion like in 2010-11 but nothing much beyond that?
DS: He needs to stay motivated. When he came to the Blues, he tore it up. However, the Blues just couldn't keep him motivated and moving his legs. Even after being benched or relegated to the fourth line, Stewart was still drifting through his shifts and making huge defensive errors. Stewart has all of the physical talent to be lethal offensive weapon and a great hockey player, but there's a mental barrier which prevents him from giving it his all consistently.
CO: One name that was tossed around in Miller rumors was Ty Rattie. The Blues managed to hold onto him but did ship out William Carrier. What’s your overall impression of the prospect?
DS: I'm absolutely thrilled Rattie is still in the organization. He's far and away the team's best prospect. Carrier is a solid prospect, but he isn't in the same class as Rattie. Carrier looks like he's going to be a nice forward with some size, but he still has a ways to go to polish up his game before he's ready for the NHL. The jury is still out on Carrier. He may be influential at the NHL level, but it's still far too early to make any firm assessments.
Q&A archives for Sabres trades