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BLOCKBUSTER DEAL SHAKES UP SABRES ROSTER

Sabres acquire Halak, Stewart, picks and a prospect for Miller and Ott

Friday, 02.28.2014 / 11:14 PM / News
By Chris Ryndak  - Sabres.com (@chrisryndak)
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BLOCKBUSTER DEAL SHAKES UP SABRES ROSTER
The Sabres acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and another conditional pick for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott.

The tides of change hit the Buffalo Sabres roster with a furious crash Friday night.

Steve Ott, the team’s captain and Ryan Miller, the starting goaltender, were traded just before Buffalo’s game against the San Jose Sharks at First Niagara Center.

With the NHL Trade Deadline looming at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and both players set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, Sabres general manager Tim Murray found the right deal was to be made with the St. Louis Blues.

For the two veterans, the Sabres acquired goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and another conditional pick.

At worst, the conditional pick will become a third-rounder in 2016. At best, the Sabres would hold the Blues’ first-round pick in this year’s draft. For it to become a 2014 first-rounder, either the Blues have to make the Western Conference Finals or they re-sign Miller.

Murray also confirmed that the Sabres retained a portion of Miller's salary in the trade.

It’s the first deal Murray has made since the Sabres hired him on Jan. 9. For a first trade, he made quite a splash.

“It's a fair size one, with all the what-ifs in it, conditions I guess if you will,” Murray said. “But it came together and we're happy with it.”

Both Ott and Miller spoke during the first intermission of the game and made a point to thank the fans, the organization and their teammates – both past and present – for making their time in Buffalo memorable.

Miller was selected by the Sabres in the fifth round of the 1999 NHL Draft and came up through the team’s minor league system. He struggled to hold back tears when speaking with the media.

“I thought I’d be a little more precise and concise with the way I’m speaking, but it’s all just kind of jumbled around. Very emotional right now, just hard right now,” he said. “I think it’s been 12 years with this organization and I am very excited for an opportunity to have a new adventure, to have a new opportunity. I have a strong sense that they have a very special team and they work hard.”

Miller has been the subject of trade rumors dating back to last season. It seems like he’s been preparing for his final game with the organization for some time now, but the news that a trade had finally happened still caught him a bit off guard.

“Thought about it for awhile and I figured this is about what would happen. Just kind of hits you all at once,” he said before stepping away from the podium.

Ott was acquired by Buffalo in a trade with Dallas in July 2012 and was named co-captain along with Thomas Vanek before the start of this season. After Vanek was traded on Oct. 27, Ott became the team’s sole captain.

“From my standpoint, it was a big honor to the captain of this team,” Ott said.

The two will now be a part of a Blues team that has aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup this season. The deal is contingent on the players involved passing physicals on Saturday.

“To have that opportunity to go along with Ryan, for myself personally, I know how great he is and both us want to live up to expectations,” Ott said. “And I know we’re both focused to do so.”

Miller was slated to start against the Sharks, but before warmups, the coaching staff was told by the front office that trades were imminent and that both Miller and Ott shouldn’t take the ice. The trades became official just minutes before the puck dropped.

That meant Jhonas Enroth would be thrust between the pipes.

All he did was make 36 saves en route to a 4-2 win.

“I was sitting in the back here joking around with the trainers about all these trade rumors and I told them, hopefully it doesn’t happen on a gameday, especially against the Sharks,” Enroth said. “But then three minutes after, coach Nolan came up to me and told me I was starting so I kind of jinxed myself there or whatever you want to call it.”

Enroth said he’s learned a lot from Miller over the years and relishes the opportunity to become a No. 1 goaltender in the League.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been sitting next to him for three, four years now and the one thing that really stands out when it comes to Ryan is his professionalism,” Enroth said. “He’s a true professional.”

Sabres defenseman Mike Weber has played with Miller for six seasons and grew up in the Ott household when he played junior hockey. To lose both teammates in one night was obviously an emotional blow to both him and the team.

“It’s one of those things, it never really hits you until it happens,” he said. “You always think you’re going to go on the ice with him one more time or play with him one more time or battle with him one more time and just like that, they were gone. …Both of them meant so much to me personally and so much to this team.”

Murray said earlier in the week that he was looking for the “proper trade” for Miller and thinks we found it in the deal with St. Louis.

And with the Sabres restructuring the roster, they likely aren’t done dealing.

“I've said all along that I'm just going to be in the wake of the GMs that want out players,” Murray said. “If they feel that we have a missing piece to their puzzle then we're going to be involved.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82