Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
When our NHL Fantasy Drafts took place in late September, Buffalo's Ryan Miller was recognized as a solid goaltender, but not one of the game's "elite." My, how things have changed in just a few months.
Miller had an overall ADP (Average Draft Position) of 52 in the preseason, the 13th goalie off the board. In your basic 12-team league, that means Miller was passed over at least four times by every owner. They must be kicking themselves right about now.
As of January 5th, Miller is statistically the No.1 fantasy goaltender in the NHL.
Obviously, things can change, but even after a "cool" streak over the last week, Miller remained at the top of the heap. The "slump" was a three-game stretch in which he failed to win a game, his longest non-winning streak this season.
Fortunately, he rebounded with back-to-back wins against Atlanta (4-3) and Montreal (1-0). The whitewash of the Canadiens was his fifth shutout of the season, tying Martin Brodeur and Ilya Bryzgalov for the league lead.
Miller is tied for second in wins and first in GAA and SV% for those with at least a dozen starts. Miller gives credit to the guys in front of him for the team's improvement this season.
"Now I'm enjoying the benefit playing for a team that is more focused on backchecking and bringing five players closer to me in the defensive zone," Miller said in an interview with NHL.com. "It's something a lot of goalies who have been with a team for a few years enjoy because the coaching staff can look at a system and figure out what works for their goaltender. I think we have a little bit of that going on with the Sabres."
The Sabres drafted the East Lansing, MI product in the fifth round of the 1999 draft. He has been their primary goaltender since 2005-06 and has won at least 30 games in each of the last four seasons, but the team has missed the playoffs the last two years. They currently lead the Northeast Division with a 26-11-4 record (56 points).
Miller will also lead the United States Olympic team into Vancouver this February. Barring injury, he'll be the starter with Tim Thomas (Boston) and Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles) serving as his backups.
| Top-Five Goalies thru January 5