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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 NSH 61 41 13 7 186 143 89
2 ANA 62 38 17 7 182 174 83
3 STL 60 38 18 4 188 151 80
4 CHI 61 36 20 5 180 146 77
5 VAN 60 35 22 3 171 156 73
6 WPG 62 31 20 11 173 168 73
7 LAK 59 29 18 12 162 152 70
8 CGY 61 33 24 4 174 158 70
9 MIN 60 31 22 7 169 158 69
10 SJS 61 30 23 8 171 174 68
11 DAL 61 27 25 9 191 202 63
12 COL 61 26 24 11 161 175 63
13 ARI 61 20 34 7 134 206 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 60 31 29 27 60
A. Steen 58 19 32 5 51
J. Schwartz 53 20 26 16 46
D. Backes 59 20 21 4 41
T. Oshie 52 17 24 13 41
K. Shattenkirk 49 8 32 18 40
P. Stastny 52 11 22 9 33
J. Lehtera 53 9 24 16 33
A. Pietrangelo 60 5 27 -2 32
P. Berglund 56 7 11 -3 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 9 2 .919 2.26
J. Allen 17 6 2 .905 2.50

 
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