I want to start off this week by talking about a player that I don’t think gets enough recognition in fantasy circles. Ryan Miller has seven wins in nine games, including two shutouts. His 1.62 goals-against-average leads the league and his 0.942 save percentage is second only to the never say die guy, Tim Thomas.
Since becoming the Sabres full-time starter, Miller’s games played has risen from 48 to 63 to last year’s 76 games. Over those three seasons, he has a 2.65 goals-against-average, a 0.910 save percentage and averaged 35 wins.
Miller is only 28-years-old and in his fourth full season. Goaltenders traditionally take longer to become dominant fantasy players. Miller followed up his worst outing of the season, a five-goal shellacking from the Lightning, by posting back-to-back shutouts.
There is only one trend that may cause some concern. In each of his last three seasons, his numbers have fallen off after the All-Star game. That is the reason the Sabres made sure that they signed a legitimate back-up to properly spell Miller (hint: M-I-L-L-E-R) during the season, so as not to overwork him. All the signs point to a breakout season from Miller.
Department of Edge-u-cation
Sticking with the goaltending theme; over Tim Thomas’ last four games, he’s only allowed four goals against and has a save percentage of 0.970. There is no goaltending controversy in Beantown. Rodney Dangerfield gets more respect than Thomas.
What’s My Line? According to the depth chart, Jeff Carter (11-9-3-12) was listed as the third line centre. Carter has averaged an amazing 21-plus minutes per game, which was the second most on the team.
The Marc Savard of two seasons ago has returned. After back-to-back seasons of 97 and 96 points, last year’s 78 points were a disappointment. The feisty center is off to a great start this year with 15 points in 12 games and the 24 penalty minutes are a bonus.
Mike Van Ryn isn’t getting top power play ice time, but has eight points in 12 games. He is finally healthy and does have a couple of 37 point seasons in his past, so 35-40 points is possible.
The fog has cleared. It’s great to see Simon Gagne and Patrice Bergeron back and performing well since returning from serious head injuries. Gagne has eight goals and 14 points in only ten games and Bergeron has eight points in 12 games.
Johnny Oduya isn’t a good bet to repeat his plus-27 of last year. Oh sure, he’s plus-8 already this year, but with Brodeur gone for the bulk of the season, every Devil is going to have scars after this season.
I am finding myself doing something I never thought I would…rooting for the Leafs! How can you not cheer for a team that works so hard? The comeback kids indeed! Toskala is a great goalie for this team; he can consistently make key saves to keep them in games. Ninth place!
After going pointless in his first seven games, Mikhail Grabovski has scored seven points in his last six games. Nikolai Kulemin has four assists in his last two contests. Niklas Hagman has scored nine points in his last seven games after recording only one point in his first six games.
Filip Kuba is getting an opportunity to play some significant minutes on the power play. He’s averaging almost six minutes per game on the power play. In 12 games, Kuba has 13 assists, eight of which have come with the man advantage. Just keep in mind that his career high is only 37 points. Ten goals and 40 assists is a very real possibility for the 31-year-old.
Inside Edge Picks for Next Week
Montreal plays four games in the week starting this Friday. Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn have started slowly for the Canadiens, but this coming week might be just what the doctor ordered. Last year, against the four teams they will be playing this week, Plekanec scored 22 points in 25 games and Kostitsyn had 22 points in 24 games.
Three Up (Buy Low)
Derek Roy is on pace for 40 points. He has a history of being a streaky scorer. Roy should still end up with 75-80 points.
Martin St.Louis is getting the most power play time on his team and over 21 minutes of ice time per game. After seasons of 102 and 83, the diminutive winger will get back on track in short order.
Last season, from December onwards, Nicklas Backstrom recorded 55 points in 56 games. This season, he started with only one point in his first six games, but has followed that with three points in his last five. Backstrom is averaging 18:29 ice time and getting prime time on a potent power play unit. He will be fine once Ovechkin gets back to his high scoring ways.
Three Down (Sell High)
With ten points in 13 games, Niklas Hagman has gotten off to a tremendous start. The line of Hagman, Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski is clicking right now, but the 29-year-old Hagman’s career high is only 41 points. Cash in if you can.
Doug Weight has ten points in the first 12 games. The fact he has this many points to begin the season is surprising enough, but there is no way the 37-year-old will maintain this pace. I think 60 points is optimistic at this stage of his career. Not too much upside here.
Brandon Dubinsky’s production has slowed and he only has three points in his last six games. He’ll still set career highs with 20 goals and between 50-55 points. With 12 points in 15 games, now would be a good time to trade him for a legitimate 70-point player.