After a breakout 15-16 breakout campaign, J.T. Miller finished up 16-17 with even better numbers than the year before for the New York Rangers.
J.T. Miller started the 16-17 season with some pressure on his shoulders for the New York Rangers.
After a breakout campaign the year prior, expectations were very high for the 23-year-old turned 24-year-old. And for the second straight year, Miller proved that he could be a fixture in the Rangers’ lineup for years to come.
Miller matched his 22 goals from the year prior while adding 13 more assists. He also finished with a higher plus/minus (+17). Miller made an impact on the game even when he wasn’t putting points on the board this year too. He always finished his checks, made key blocks and turned into a guy that Alain Vigneault trusted in all three zones–most of the time.
While there were many positives in his game this year, there was also one significant shortcoming.
First, Miller was inconsistent in the playoffs. Miller only notched three assists in the team’s 12 postseason games and didn’t play too well away from the puck either. Like his teammate Chris Kreider, Miller took a lot of stupid penalties as well. He had 21 in those 12 games, 16 of which were minor penalties.
Miller’s struggles in postseason play are not as well documented as you would presume. In 40 career playoff games, Miller has only notched one goal to go along with 16 assists. Although he is still young, those numbers are concerning.
It’s Miller time
I believe it is safe to say that Miller is going to be Ranger for a long time, but regardless of his success, he still has a lot to prove, mainly in the postseason. He becomes an RFA after next season and is expected to get a pretty sizable pay raise from his $2.75 million he earns per year currently.
Although he is better on the wing, Miller could also play some center down the road especially if the team moves Derek Stepan this off-season–which is not completely out of the question. This makes him much more valuable than the average winger for this team going forward.
With that said, a team that wants to bring in another young defenseman for next year, Miller, because of the team’s depth at the wing, could bring back that kind of an asset with no question. Whether they should do that or not is a completely different story, though–my answer is a big fat “NO.”
He has improved so much in the last two years, and if the Rangers former 15th overall draft pick in 2011 continues to improve to that same extent, the Rangers have an absolute gem from a terribly thin draft on their hands.