The NHL trade rumors have been in full swing, with some of the league's biggest names being caught in the hearsay.

One of those names is Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. His up-and-down season has lead to speculation that he may be dealt or at least shopped around.

There are a number of teams that could court the services of the Michigan native.

Let's take a look at five teams that would love to have the services of the former Vezina winner.  

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Last night hockey fans witnessed Buffalo Sabres' goalie Ryan Miller get run over by Nashville Predators' forward Jordin Tootoo in the second period.

Now the initial reaction was that Tootoo ran through Miller on purpose, and made no attempt to get out of the way.

I don't buy it. I think Tootoo took the only route that would not put himself in harms way.

The play began with Tootoo cutting hard to the net with the puck, prior to getting the puck to his forehand for a shot, Christian Ehrhoff poked the puck off of his stick—which was a clean play—but kept his stick and hand around the waist of Tootoo.

 With Ehrhoff's stick positioned where it was, it only gave Tootoo two choices.

1. Keep on the path he was going, and crash into the side of the net/post, risking injuring to himself.

2. Attempt to make a sharp jump/cut, and potentially slip past Ryan Miller, or run into him.

People are going to say that Tootoo could have gone around the net, or he could have missed Miller entirely. Those arguments are both untrue.

Again, cutting left he goes into the post/net. He also could not go wide right because of the positioning of Ehrhoff's stick and the momentum that Ehrhoff had going into the corner.

Put yourself in Tootoo's skates. You have two choices, go into the post and possibly get hurt, or attempt to miss the goaltender. If you do hit the goaltender, won't be as bad for you as the net.

Tootoo was looking out for himself and I do not blame him for choosing the path that he did.

A lot of players would have done the same thing. Some would have missed Miller and some would have ran right over him.

I will give the Sabres' players credit however, they finally stuck up for Ryan Miller, and did not give Tootoo the same soft treatment as Milan Lucic got after he ran over Miller.

Where I do not give credit is to the announcers of the game, ESPN and hockey fans for blowing the play completely out of proportion.

Yes it was a big hit, but Tootoo was doing what players are told to do—go to the net hard. Tootoo was also impeded from making a hockey move to get away from the contact.

The reason why there was such a story and uprising over the play is because Ryan Miller was just coming back from an injury sustained from another run-in with a forward.

If this had been the first time, I think Tootoo only gets two minutes for goalie interference.

Will Tootoo get fined? More than likely. Will he be suspended? He probably will get a couple of games.

Should he get fined or suspended? I would give him a fine, but a suspension is not warranted for this play.

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Ryan Miller is one of the best goalies in the NHL, but recent history also has him as one of the most targeted. And I don’t mean shots, either.

The Buffalo Sabres star netminder has become the center of attention after being crushed on Saturday night against the Nashville Predators by forward Jordin Tootoo.

The play starts with Tootoo skating into the Buffalo zone and rushing the net in a normal third- or fourth-line crash-the-net scenario.

Where the problem starts is when Tootoo tries to turn east-to-west in front of the goalie for a shot. The defenseman has him scouted and pushes him to the outside.

That means Tootoo smashes right into Miller. While I believe he could have slowed up, the Sabres defender doesn’t help Miller much by driving the Predator hard to the net.

Either way, the Sabres are absolutely furious, but none more than Miller himself. The recently concussed goalie unleashes all his aggression on Tootoo. Three Sabres just beat down on Tootoo for a few seconds before any Predators can get there to help.

While the hit and subsequent brawl that ensued will be looked at in terms of possible suspensions, this is not a good situation for the Buffalo Sabres.

This was Miller’s first game back from a concussion he sustained when Bruins forward Milan Lucic leveled him outside his crease.

While it’s hard to argue that anything Lucic did was wrong because Miller was in open ice, the hit gave a concussion that it appears other teams may be aiming for.

 

Check back for more on the National Hockey League as it comes, and check out Bleacher Report’s NHL Page to get your fill of all things hockey.

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They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. It did Saturday night as Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller returned from a concussion.

The injury came from a hit to the head by Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic on November 12th. The Sabres did little to respond to the hit and expected the NHL's head of disciplinary action, Brendan Shanahan, to take care of Lucic.

However, no suspension was forthcoming from Shanahan, and although the Sabres did fight the Bruins twice in the next game, they got little to no satisfaction out of it.

Having Miller suffer a concussion from the hit didn't help them out much either. Miller missed nine games and made his return Saturday night.

It didn't take long to become an eventful return though, as with 4:46 remaining in the second period, Predators forward Jordin Tootoo left his feet to hit Miller.

Yeah, you read right. He left his feet...to hit a goalie.

Tootoo didn't turn out to be as lucky as Lucic, however, as he ended up being at the bottom of a pile of Sabres, with fists flying, all directed towards him.

This is the point where you have people who don't understand the sport talking about how "fighting shouldn't be allowed in hockey" and "it's a cheap attempt at getting ratings."

That's what we call "Horse Hockey." Both of these incidents provide a perfect example of why fighting should be allowed, and even more-so why the instigator rule needs to be uplifted.

Lucic made a hit on a goalie that at the very least tip-toed on the line of what's dirty and what isn't. Regardless of whether you think it was dirty or not, in the moment, it's something Miller's teammates should have responded to.

They didn't, and shortly after, Lucic walked away from the league with no suspension. In essence, Lucic got away with hitting a goalie at no consequence. No player made him feel at all threatened, and the league did nothing to punish him.

This is when players begin to think they can take runs at your players, and that's exactly what Tootoo did.

This time, he didn't get lucky like Lucic, and Buffalo finally went balls-to-the-wall and sent a message to any player who may think about taking a run at their players in the future.

That is exactly why fighting is allowed and should remain in the game. It keeps the players accountable to each other for their actions, and it deters actions like Tootoo performed on Saturday because he thought he could get away with it.

Jordan Matthews is a writer for the NHL and for the Detroit Red Wings. For more coverage, you can follow him on Twitter.

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There may be nothing scarier in the sports world then taking a razor-sharp ice skate to the face and/or neck. Simply horrifying.

That’s the reality Buffalo Sabres forward Nathan Gerbe faced Friday night when his teammate Paul Gaustad fell and his skate clipped Gerbe’s face.

Gerbe immediately grabbed his face and rushed off the ice where he was met by the trainers who looked at him and took him into the locker room.

While this could have been a tragic story, it wasn’t nearly as serious as it could have been.

NHL Network’s David Amber is reporting about Gerbe’s status on Twitter:

Update on #Sabres Gerbe- reports say nose and lip cut by Gaustad skate- considered day to day

It goes to show that hockey players are the toughest athletes in all of professional sports. You can tell me about Ray Lewis all day, but until he plays through cutting his face with a giant blade, I’ll take the NHL.

Gerbe stands at just 5’5”. While I am glad this hasn’t happened before, I am surprised. With Gerbe’s height, you would think that he would have a better chance of getting hit with a skate in a melee like we saw Friday.

This whole ordeal is just more proof that the NHL should mandate shields, but not stop the development there. Look at full cages and neck protection that isn’t bulky that players can get behind.

Safety is important in every sport, but in a sport where the players have razor blades attached to their feet, there has to be never-ending search for perfect safety.

 

Check back for more on the National Hockey League as it comes, and check out Bleacher Report’s NHL Page to get your fill of all things hockey.

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Sabres towering young defenceman talks to NHLPA.com about the wild west of Texas and Alberta, his choice to play for the USA or Canada on the international stage and the whirlwind of draft day.

Visit NHLPA.com for more player news and videos.

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Mike Grier retires after 14 NHL seasons.The veteran winger played over 1,000 NHL games with Edmonton, Washington, Buffalo and San Jose

NHLPA.com

TORONTO (December 1, 2011) – Mike Grier, a hard-working and dependable winger who played his career with the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks, announced his retirement today from the National Hockey League (NHL) following a career that spanned 14 seasons.

Grier, 36, appeared in a total of 1,060 regular season NHL games, recording 162 goals and 221 assists for 383 points. He also played in 101 NHL playoff games, as his teams qualified for the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons in the league.

“I was very fortunate to be able to play 14 seasons in the NHL with some great players,” said Grier. “The memories and friendships that I have built during my time in the league will last a lifetime. I would like to thank my former teammates, family and fans for helping make my career so memorable for me. It was a great ride, and I am now excited and looking forward to my post-playing future.” 

Grier was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in the Boston area, and although his family was active in professional football, Mike’s passion was for hockey. His dedication and hard work enabled him to become one of the first black hockey players who was born, raised and trained in the United States to play in the NHL.  

Grier was drafted in the ninth round, 219th overall, of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues, but was traded to the Edmonton Oilers while attending Boston University. Mike honed his hockey skills playing three years of Division 1 hockey at BU starting in the 1993-94 season.

Grier accumulated 120 points in 114 games over his playing career at BU and was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist, selected to the NCAA East First All-American Team, and helped the Terriers win a national championship in 1995.

Grier broke into the NHL during the 1996-97 season with the Edmonton Oilers, playing in 79 games while scoring 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points as a rookie. He would spend six seasons in Edmonton, posting two 20-goal seasons, before being traded to the Washington Capitals before the '02'03 season.

Grier would stay with the Capitals for parts of two seasons before being dealt at the trade deadline in '04 to the Buffalo Sabres. He was a member of the Sabres during their run to the 2005-06 Eastern Conference Finals. He signed with San Jose as a free agent in the summer of 2006 and spent three seasons with the Sharks, making a trip to the playoffs in each of those seasons.

He returned to Buffalo as a free-agent in '09 and played the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons—the final two of his career—with the Sabres.

Mike and his wife Anne, and their three children, will reside in the Boston area. 

Visit NHLPA.com for more player news and videos.

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Just two seasons ago, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was the toast of the hockey world, as he won the Vezina Trophy and led the USA Olympic hockey team on a magical run to a silver medal.

Now, he is sidelined by a concussion and possibly on the trading block.

Sabres fans seem to have soured on Miller a bit after an inconsistent start to the season, and have instead embraced backup Jhonas Enroth. There is currently no concrete timetable for Miller's return to action after being hit by the Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic, but Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal has heard that Miller wouldn't mind being traded.

While this has yet to be confirmed, the Sabres' front office most certainly shouldn't cave in under pressure from the fanbase. Rookie backup Enroth has generally played well in Miller's absence, but there is no reason to believe that he can sufficiently carry a starter's workload.

Enroth has a record of 8-4-1 this season with a goals against average of 2.27 and save percentage of .926. While those numbers are impressive, they have come over a small sample size. The same can be said for his 9-2-2 record last season.

In the NFL fans like to label certain quarterbacks like Tim Tebow as "winners," the same can be said for goaltenders in the NHL. The fact of the matter is, though, that no quarterback or goaltender is going to win if its supporting cast is playing poorly.

Enroth may have had a great record last season, but his 2.73 goals against average was fairly mediocre for an NHL goalie. He was picked up by a Sabres offense that was among the best in the league down the stretch last year, though.

The offense has been inconsistent over the past few weeks and the defense has been shaky, and because of that, Enroth has begun to wilt a bit. The stats don't paint the true picture of how Enroth has performed recently, as he has often been out of position and gotten lucky with shots hitting the goal post.

Ultimately, the overarching point is that while Enroth is a good to great backup, he isn't necessarily capable of being a successful starter. Sabres fans have wanted a reliable backup for the past several years, but the second one emerges, they want the starter out of town.

Enroth has proven to be serviceable over a very short period of time, but Miller, while a bit of a head case at times, has been productive for several years now. There is no question that dealing Miller and his $6.25 million-per-year salary would open space to address other needs, but it isn't worth it.

When Miller is on his game, he is one of the best goaltenders the NHL has to offer. While the fans and even Miller himself may be frustrated, there is no reason to overreact.

While Miller was winning the Vezina two seasons ago, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was in a similar situation that Miller is in now, with backup Tuukka Rask gaining favor with the fans. Rask turned out to be flash in the pan, though, as Thomas regained his starting spot and led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship last season.

I'm not saying the same will happen with Miller, but I would take the steadier and more proven option at goaltender any day of the week. Enroth may eventually prove to be the better goalie, but that isn't the case currently.

Provided the Sabres' supporting cast can get healthy and figure things out as the season continues, it will be Miller, and not Enroth, who leads Buffalo into the playoffs.

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