James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dose: Miller Timely

Monday, January 13, 2014


Considering the amount of words that spill out into the Daily Dose each day and week (I’d wager at least 6,000 every five entries), it’s not easy to remember every little prediction, observation and outlandish comment.

 

I mean, sure, it’s memorable in the rare moment when someone gets offended. And I definitely remember being a regular proponent for slow-starting Philadelphia Flyers forwards (Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell to varying degrees) and an increasingly big fan of adding and dropping flavor-of-the-month goalies (if you have the focus to do that on a day-to-day basis, at least).*

 

Anyway, every now and then a stray thought returns to my brain - perhaps college didn’t cause permanent damage - and two popped back into the ‘ol noggin thanks to this weekend's developments. One makes me feel almost-smart and the other leaves me almost-sad.

 

(Fittingly, it took me forever to figure out when and where those points were mentioned … and then I realized they were in the same column. Ho boy.)

 

Almost-smart: Back when things were going pretty well instead of just astonishingly well for the Anaheim Ducks, I pointed out that they had played quite a few more road than home games. They’ve now won seven games in a row while Jonas Hiller’s personal winning streak extended to 14 contests, thanks in part to their 19-0-2 mark at the Pond.

 

(I probably could’ve been a little more ecstatic about Jonas Hiller, whose talent didn’t escape me, but his situation gave me a minor case of the willies. To be fair, there was a run where it didn’t seem clear who would emerge from the Hiller - Frederik Andersen - Viktor Fasth abyss.)

 

Almost-sad: After recommending patience for months, I reluctantly “left it up to” Miller owners if they wanted to drop him. Eh, just read the line for yourself:

 

Ryan Miller (71 percent) - Normally, I say stick with your stars through the tough times, but I cannot blame Miller owners for blowing a gasket and canning him like mini-Steinbrenners. He does seem to be turning things around in a subtle way that would benefit those who scooped him up after the carnage, though. Just don't be surprised if this is just a minor turnaround and he goes back to being a strong player in a lousy situation.

 

Well, interestingly enough, that situation has only become more … well, interesting.

 

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday's NHL games. It's just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.

 

For everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News and follow @Rotoworld_ HK+@cyclelikesedins on Twitter.

 

WHILE YOU STILL CAN

 

Miller is only 76-percent owned now vs. The 71 cited above, so it seems as though the Yahoo fantasy league public hasn’t caught onto the continued increasingly increased goodness of Miller. (Probably because he’s only played in four contests since Dec. 27.)

 

Anyway, that number is likely to increase, or at least it should increase. Maybe even as Monday goes along, unless people have already given up on him or are scared off by his still-dismal 12-18-11 record.

 

If you’re a regular Dose reader (a 6,000-worder?), you probably know where this is going, but just in case: add him. Granted, you only have about a one-in-four chance of doing so, yet you should do it if you can.

 

Since Dec. 17, Miller seems like he's been rolling out his impression of a good goalie (actually, he's very good) on a decent team (the Buffalo Sabres are, actually, not good at all ... some say they’re historically bad). The silver medal-winner has only lost once in regulation and one more time beyond regulation (6-1-1) in that span. He allowed three goals in each of the two defeats, but he's only given up one or two tallies in his wins. Half of his victories this season came in that time frame.

 

However you plan on using such an asset, nabbing Miller could be beneficial. (Note: picking him up as a third option is perfectly fine, too, in case that wasn't clear.)

 

UNFAIR TRADE

 

Speaking of which - and this is where current (not just prospective) Miller owners come in, so pull up a (preferably rollie office)** chair - this could be an interesting time to dangle the American-born netminder in sell-high trades. Granted, much like with trading for James Neal when he was suspended, this tactic probably doesn’t pose great odds of working.

 

Really, a fantasy owner is more likely to land Miller in free agency than send him packing in a lucrative swap. It can't hurt too much to try though, right?

 

As always, it helps to be reasonable in your expectations, too. In fact, the list I’m about to provide may include a few guys who will perform less impressively than Miller. For that reason, you might even want to float a “Miller + mild downgrade for them for Comparable goalie + mild upgrade for you” trade.

 

(Unless you think you need to take the downgrade to get a better goalie. You know … these things vary wildly.)

 

TARGETS (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

 

Ownership percentages listed just in case.

 

Jimmy Howard (91 percent) - There are a lot of factors that make Jimmy Howard a dangerous guy to add. He suffered a hip flexor injury on Saturday. The 29-year-old has had a pretty lousy season and doesn't seem to deserve more reps than Jonas Gustavsson. Somewhat amazingly, Howard hasn't won as many games (eight) as Miller's 12. Their individual stats are pretty stark, too.

 

Still, I think those reasons actually make Howard an interesting buy-low opportunity. Sure, it's unsettling that the Detroit Red Wings (aka team puck possession) are basically smack dab in the middle of the pack possession-wise, but they’ve faced an obscene amount of injuries, bad luck and droopy signings lately. I think the first two issues will sort things out to the point where Howard will enjoy better support going forward.

 

Does that mean the Red Wings will be the Red Wings? No, their days among the elite might be in the rearview mirror for a while (though maybe they can get more moves correct next summer to inch back), but let’s not forget this is the East we’re talking about. And the Red Wings are really committed to Howard.

 

We can agree to disagree, but I think this is a great time to make a potentially beneficial swap.

 

Sergei Bobrovsky (87 percent) - OK, so “Bob” is hot in his own right. Many Bobrovsky owners have been waiting for a long time to see their patience pay off, too.

 

Still, there are those who have been waiting for an opportunity to unload him all the same, and might prefer Miller’s (again, good goalie on awful team) situation to Bobrovsky’s (average goalie, average team).

 

Steve Mason (72 percent) - Hey, it’s Bobrovsky’s old buddy!

 

Of all the goalies on this list, I hold Mason in the least esteem. It’s actually kind of stunning that I’d even conceive of trading for Miller. Mason’s numbers remain solid enough, he’s fighting for a new contract, Ray Emery still hasn’t really put up much of a fight and the Flyers are trending way, way up.

 

Interesting enough.

 

Cory Schneider (61 percent) - Schneider and Miller are in almost wildly different situations, but they have this in common: they’re both very good and they’ve both been rather unlucky. (Oh yeah, they’re also both from the U.S.)

 

While the Howard move may ooze down the drain from his potentially continued mediocrity, grabbing Schneider could blow up because he faces intense backup pressure and definitely doesn’t have the same faith from his franchise (at least until Martin Brodeur finds it in his heart to … leave).

 

This one’s definitely a coin toss, but Schneider’s intriguing because New Jersey has a chance to be a strong team down the stretch. And the Devils’ management finally seems to be leaning a bit toward Schneider.

 

So, those are four goalies you could turn Miller into. Maybe you don’t want more than one of them or even none at all. But it’s at least worth considering. And hopefully this is all a pretty strong signal that, yes, you should add one of them if they’re on your waiver wire.

 

For a full list of injuries and suspensions, including a mildly troubling development for Ryan Getzlaf, click here.

 

* - Full disclosure: I actually don’t bother with that these days, but you know … other fish to fry. Or at least tiny sprites to battle, who might eventually sort of fry.

 

** - Seriously, those are on the short list of things that are awesome about office jobs, along with surprise birthday cake and the occasional free lunch.



James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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