Fantasy: Miller Has Top Potential with Blues

Saturday, 03.01.2014 / 12:22 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
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Fantasy: Miller Has Top Potential with Blues
Ryan Miller being traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the St. Louis Blues should have a night-and-day impact on his fantasy value.



Ryan Miller being traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the St. Louis Blues should have a night-and-day impact on his fantasy value.

Plain and simple, it's an opportunity for this workhorse goalie to prove he still has top-five fantasy capability at his position.

Miller, who leaves Buffalo as the franchise's all-time leader in wins (284 in 540 games played), had a knack for putting his team on his back in good times and bad. This season, even with the Sabres rebuilding and in the basement of the NHL standings, his .923 save percentage ranks 10th in the NHL despite him facing the sixth-most shots League-wide (1,411).

Over the past three seasons, only Ondrej Pavelec (4,635) and Mike Smith (4,533) have faced more shots than Miller (4,469). He has faced 40-plus shots in a game 10 times so far in 2013-14, the second-highest total behind Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (11).

But in all likelihood, those days are over.

The Blues, who sport three top-15 fantasy defensemen in Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester, have arguably the League's most well-rounded unit on the back end. As a team, St. Louis allows the second-fewest shots per game in the NHL (26.6) behind only the New Jersey Devils (25.3). The Blues have finished first or second in the NHL in that department in each season dating back to 2010-11.

St. Louis' previous goalie tandem of Jaroslav Halak (who was traded to Buffalo in the Miller package) and Brian Elliott has recorded shutouts at a high rate for years. This season, that duo has combined for seven team shutouts, second most in the NHL behind the Los Angeles Kings (10). In 2011-12, Halak and Elliott combined for 15 shutouts. Now, with Halak's fantasy value taking a sizable hit, Miller steps into a pretty ideal situation.

There's more than enough evidence to indicate Miller, a borderline top-20 fantasy goalie entering the season and top-15 goalie prior to the trade, is bound to jump in the fantasy ranks at his position. With his contract set to expire at season's end, fantasy owners invested in him later in drafts by selecting him on average with a seventh-round pick in Yahoo leagues. He was the ultimate buy-low option because there was a legitimate chance he would be traded to a contender.

It was a calculated risk, but the blockbuster trade on Friday proved to be a hefty reward to those fantasy owners who showed their patience with Miller and the Sabres this season. While Elliott remains in the mix for occasional playing time, this trade was made for a reason.

Miller has been a top-five fantasy goalie before and he's in prime position to regain that value over the Blues' final 23 regular-season games. From winning the Vezina Trophy in 2010 to leading Buffalo to the Presidents' Trophy in 2006-07, Miller has a reputation for not only giving his team a high volume of starts but also rising to the occasion despite the heavy workload.

While Miller's future in St. Louis remains unclear beyond this season due to his expiring contract, the Blues have a chance to cast away their playoff demons and make a legitimate run at the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship. Keeper league or not, Miller is still in his prime at 33 years old and warrants ownership in all league formats.

Obstacles remain in the deep Western Conference, as the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks, the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, the always-dangerous San Jose Sharks and the Kings, who have eliminated the Blues in consecutive postseasons, still stand in the way.

But no matter how you slice it, the Blues upgraded in net Friday and are in position to close out their regular season on a high note -- which is all that matters from a fantasy standpoint.

The pressure is on for Miller and the Blues, but "Miller Time" in St. Louis should be a great time for fantasy owners.

By Pete Jensen | NHL.com Fantasy Insider

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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