(HockeySTL)-- Ryan Miller has played in four games for the Blues. All four have been wins. Since the blockbuster deal with Buffalo was announced a little over a week ago, the Blue have caught fire, winning five consecutive games and taking over the No. 1 spot in the National Hockey League. And while the focus is on winning for the Blues and Miller, it’s hard not to look to the future.
When the Blues acquired Miller, general manager Doug Armstrong passed off the deal as one that was made more for the here and now. The Blues are, without a doubt, going all-in to win the Stanley Cup this season. That being said, the belief is that Miller is not being viewed as a rental player.
Both the Blues and Miller have expressed interest in extending Miller’s time in St. Louis past this season. It’s only a matter of time before one party reaches out to the other.
“I think it is definitely a possibility,” said Miller. “I think it is a great organization. Just talking with Doug Armstrong and some of the coaching staff they seem to have a real handle on the kind of team they want to have. That being said, I think it’s something we aren’t going to have too much discussion on until later on. I’m very open to it but right now it’s more about the hockey and we will have a lot of time later on to feel that out.”
Miller is in the final year of a five-year, $31.25 million contract, which pays the goaltender $6.25 million annually. Extending Miller would be one of the more expensive deals the Blues have made in past years, but it may be necessary for the future.
“We aren’t loading up for the next five days or the next five weeks or five months,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. “I think all of us are hopeful Ryan comes and stays with us, but regardless, we are in the winning business right now.”
We are going to stay in this window for the next few years here and he really adds to the window. At this time of year you cannot get enough professional players. He is a winner. It’s a good mix for us. But this is a mix we are hoping for long-term, not just two months.”
As much interest as there may be from both sides, there is a good chance that negotiating will be at a halt until after the season. As part of the terms of the deal with Buffalo, the 2016 draft pick that the Blues gave up is conditional, based on a couple of situations.
As it stands, the 2016 pick is a third-round selection for Buffalo. If the Blues re-sign Miller before the NHL draft or make the Western Conference Finals, the Sabres get the Blues’ first round pick for this season. If the Blues re-sign Miller after the draft, they give Buffalo a 2016 second round pick, instead.
If the Blues are forced to give up their 2014 first round pick, Buffalo will be required to send a second and third round pick back to St. Louis.
Those terms could come into play when it comes to the timing of the negotiations with Miller.
Another thing that could come into play is goaltending prospect Jake Allen, who is ready for an NHL shot.
Allen is on a one-way deal next season, so he will be with the Blues. But whether or not he will be the starter remains to be seen. Ideally, the Blues would like to get a deal done with Miller and have Allen as his backup. Having Miller as a mentor would do wonders for Allen, who Armstrong calls the team’s future in goal.
“(An extension) is something that we will certainly discuss at the appropriate time,” Armstrong said. “We really believe that Jake Allen is the goalie of the future. When you look at his numbers this year in the American Hockey League they are second to none. If we can talk to Ryan about an extension at some point we will certainly do that, but this deal was made on the here and now. We will worry about the future after the season.”
In the meantime, Miller is beginning to get the real feel playing for the Blues. Last Tuesday, Miller took the ice for the first time in front of his new hometown fans. The crowd greeted him with a thunderous standing ovation when he exited the tunnel. It was a humbling experience.
“That was really special,” said Miller. I think it’s a great sports town. It’s pretty cool. I’m excited to be here. It’s a big change after 12 years and this is kind of helping move forward and form a relationship with this city.”