As the offseason progresses in the NHL, the talk amongst New York Rangers fans is who will make the team. With several players leaving, holes have been left in their absence. It is now time for the young prospects to shine. Opportunity has presented itself and is ready for someone to take advantage. For J.T. Miller, the door is wide open for him to walk through.
The former first round pick of the New York Rangers in 2011, J.T. Miller has already seen action at the NHL level. From 2012 to 2014, he has played in 56 games combined. During that time, Miller produced five goals and 10 points. In last year’s playoff run last season, he played in four games, producing two points for the Rangers.
A majority of J.T. Miller‘s playing time was as a winger, and not his natural position of center. This may have caused his numbers with the big club to not be as stellar. Also, his lack of discipline to stay out of the penalty box may have contributed to his inability to stay with the New York Rangers. During his time with the team last season, he had 18 penalty minutes. After being sent down to the team’s AHL affiliate, Hartford Wolf Pack, he served 47 minutes of penalty minutes in 41 games.
The potential to be a star is there for J.T. Miller. At 6’1, he can stand his ground. With a weight of 200 lbs., he can force himself onto his opponents. During his time with the Rangers, he showed his strength and willingness to take on the opposition. When he was in the faceoff circle, Miller won more than 50% of the time. Also, J.T. Miller showed finesse when it came to his offensive side. He had ‘soft’ hands and could play unselfishly, deferring to the open man. Last year, he earned 28 assists with Hartford. Along with 15 goals, he was more than a point per game player for the Wolf Pack. And that was in 41 games played. Imagine him playing a full schedule?
Room for optimism should be tempered. His offensive numbers were against non-NHL caliber teams. But, J.T. Miller can still improve. And under head coach Alain Vigneault, there is no doubt his play can be elevated. It would not hurt to put some more meat on his body and make him a little more physical. We all like that. But he can provide a scoring touch when called upon.
Whatever position Alain Vigneault can find for J.T.Miller, he will be more than happy to fill. The center positions appear to be filled with Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, and newly-signed Matthew Lombardi. J.T. Miller may not have a position at center for the time being. However injuries can put wrenches into the team’s plans. That’s when they should look to Miller. I feel he can run with it, if given the opportunity.