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In the Cage: Miller, Bryzgalov solid buy-low options

by Justin Goldman

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.

The theme of our Fantasy Hockey Google Hangout on Thursday is focused on identifying solid buy-low and sell-high candidates. With so many options, the panel will surely dish out some solid strategies to help you locate viable forwards and defensemen in both categories.

When it comes to finding good buy-low goalies, with fewer assets to work with, you're basically looking for one of two things: a backup that has the potential to become a starter, or a good goalie on a bad team that would benefit from a turnaround. Workload will always be the driving force behind a goalie's fantasy value, but you can't buy them low or sell them high if they're not going to play.


These modified re-rankings are a projection of a goalie’s fantasy output for the entire season. Our rankings are based on volume categories like games played, wins, saves, and GAA and SP%. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). It is important to note that our rankings reflect sheer fantasy value, not talent. A less-talented goalie could be ranked higher due to their team’s strong defense and offense.
  • 1. Tuukka Rask, Bruins (+1)
  • 2. Antti Niemi, Sharks (-1)
  • 3. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks (same)
  • 4. Carey Price, Canadiens (same)
  • 5. Mike Smith, Coyotes (+2)
  • 6. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins (-1)
  • 7. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (+1)
  • 8. Roberto Luongo, Canucks (-2)
  • 9. Jaroslav Halak, Blues (same)
  • 10. Steve Mason, Flyers (+3)
  • 11. Ben Bishop, Lightning (+5)
  • 12. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings (-1)
  • 13. Kari Lehtonen, Stars (+2)
  • 14. Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (-2)
  • 15. Josh Harding, Wild (+2)
  • 16. Braden Holtby, Capitals (-2)
  • 17. Jonas Hiller, Ducks (+2)
  • 18. Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (same)
  • 19. Ryan Miller, Sabres (+1)
  • 20. Jonathan Bernier, Maple Leafs (+1)
  • 21. James Reimer, Maple Leafs (+1)
  • 22. Ondrej Pavelec, Jets (+3)
  • 23. Craig Anderson, Senators (NR - DTD)
  • 24. J-S Giguere, Avalanche (same)
  • 25. Frederik Andersen, Ducks (+1)
  • 26. Martin Brodeur, Devils (+3)
  • 27. Robin Lehner, Senators (+3)
  • 28. Cory Schneider, Devils (+2)
  • 29. Evgeni Nabokov, Islanders (-2)
  • 30. Ray Emery, Flyers (NR)
Day-to-day: Jonathan Quick, Niklas Backstrom

Injured Reserve: Cam Ward, Tim Thomas, Anton Khudobin

Considering the limited options that currently exist, one of the best buy-low candidates right now is Edmonton Oilers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

After his toxic end with the Philadelphia Flyers, everyone knows that owning Bryzgalov comes with a heavy dose of risk. His focus isn't always where it needs to be and he has caused issues in the locker room on more than one occasion. But when he's in a groove, he's capable of being one of the best goalies in the NHL. His .900 save percentage in 40 games in 2012-13 was the worst of his career, but in 99 total games with the Flyers, he still earned 52 wins and seven shutouts.

Knowing that Edmonton is such a fragile team right now, many may feel Bryzgalov is destined to suffer some of the same perils as Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera.

But their own inconsistencies actually lend a hand to Bryzgalov's enticing value as a solid buy-low candidate. Without playing a single game in an Oilers uniform, Bryzgalov could be recalled from Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League and quickly become the team's full-blown starter in just a few games.

Furthermore, Bryzgalov has stayed in shape during his extended offseason. He worked with one of Sweden's finest goalie coaches in Erik Granqvist before spending time with Las Vegas Wranglers goalie coach Michael Lawrence during his tryout opportunity in the ECHL. Both have praised him for his focus and work ethic during the training process.

It may not happen overnight, but with opportunity and skill on his side, Bryzgalov could easily bolster your fantasy team's value as the season progresses, maybe in as little as 1-2 weeks.

Another great buy-low candidate is Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

Currently owned in 71 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, Miller is sure to benefit from the front-office overhaul Wednesday. With new coach Ted Nolan ready to change the team's culture, it's only fair to expect a tighter defensive system in front of their workhorse starter.

All three of Miller's wins (3-11-0) have come in a shootout, so while victories have been tough to come by, his .916 save percentage is something to behold, especially since he's facing an average of 38.2 shots per game. Considering Miller has been the team's clear-cut MVP, now is the best time to jump on a goalie that has had played honorably behind the worst team in the League.

To get more insights on some of great buy-low, sell-high goaltenders, be sure to join the NHL Fantasy panel during our Google Hangout.


1. Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets -- Stopping 112 of his past 118 shots, Pavelec is riding a stellar three-game winning streak. The Czech workhorse pitched a 41-save shutout against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 8 and then stopped 41 of 43 shots in a 3-2 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.

2. Robin Lehner, Ottawa Senators -- Going 3-0-2 in his past five decisions, Lehner was excellent during Craig Anderson's neck injury. The 22-year-old has a 1.93 goals-against average and .948 save percentage this month.

3. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils -- With only four goals against in his past five games, Brodeur is currently exceeding all expectations. He had two straight shutouts in wins against the Flyers and Predators and has stopped 90 of his past 93 shots.


1. Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers -- It looks like Dubnyk's days as a starter for Edmonton are numbered. He has allowed 13 goals on 119 shots in four straight losses and has just three wins in 14 games (3-9-1).

2. Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks -- After going 9-1-3 in October with a 1.72 GAA and .924 save percentage, Niemi is just 1-3-0 in November with a .888 save percentage. He also has just one win in his past five games.

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins -- He hasn't been terrible, but after a 2-1 loss to the Flyers on Wednesday, Fleury has lost three in a row. He has allowed nine goals on his past 78 shots, an .885 save percentage.


Kevin Poulin, New York Islanders -- With a 1.75 GAA and .939 save percentage in his past four games (2-2-0), Poulin is starting to embrace a heavier workload with the Islanders. The sample size in his NHL career is just 27 games (9-13-1), but he has fared well with a .914 save percentage, including a .920 mark this season.

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