When should the NY Rangers extend K’Andre Miller?

NY Rangers, K'Andre Miller (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NY Rangers, K'Andre Miller (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

K’Andre Miller was one of the premier performers for the NY Rangers on their deep run this postseason. Since joining the roster at the start of the shortened 2021 season, we’ve been aware of what he could be capable of.

Through his first season and a half, we saw flashes of his unlimited potential, but there were noticeable kinks in his game. Occasional defensive breakdowns and not maximizing the use of his size were somewhat common tendencies.

However, after the short break this past season due to the league-wide COVID outbreak, he began to consistently play at a high level. It could be argued that he was the Rangers’ second-best defenseman for the latter half of the season. With Adam Fox appearing fatigued down the stretch, it was a massive boost for them to have Miller playing at that level.

In the playoffs, his play only improved, even when gaining an increase of ice time and playing physically tolling minutes. He even netted big goals, including one to keep them in the game in Game 7 of Round One.

We are all aware of the difficulty Chris Drury will have operating for the next several offseason with limited cap space. That challenge will only grow more difficult as the years go by. Miller becomes a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) after the 2022-23 season.

The NY Rangers should extend K’Andre Miller now

It is becoming more common for teams to extend players before the summer of their free agency. This is for a few reasons. It can guarantee the extension of the player and not allow the process to come down to the wire during the summer. Additionally, teams will pounce on the opportunity to lock up a player at a lower price prior to their contract year if they anticipate a huge breakout.

With the Rangers having limited cap room, and Miller along with Alexis Lafreniere due for extensions next summer, it may be wise to find a long-term contract for Miller now. Typically, unless a player breaks out early in their career, the first contract (after their entry-level contract) is a two-year bridge deal.

We have seen those get done with players like Filip Chytil, and it is likely to happen with Kaapo Kakko. Lafreniere will likely be bridged, but the Rangers should be confident in Miller sustaining this level of play. They should honestly be scared that he’ll be even better this year.

It would be a risk for them to sign him to a cheap two-year deal, and then end up having to pay him a ridiculous number when he is due for another contract. By then there’s a chance we are looking at another $7-8 million player.

Signing him this offseason for five to seven years for $5-6.5 million could end up working in their favor. Obviously, this would lead to some other adjustments next offseason to stay under the salary cap, but when looking at the bigger picture they could be saving themselves from a harder decision a few more years down the line.

Examples of extensions being done

This is becoming a habitual action for NHL teams. The Rangers have even done it twice over the past year. They re-signed Mika Zibanejad right before the start of his contract year. This allowed him to be locked up before he could test the UFA market, and it likely saved them some money had he performed as the #1 center on a team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

Also, early this year Drury made it a priority to re-sign Adam Fox. He was able to agree with Fox’s camp on a number that they both liked, prior to another big offensive season for him.

Other teams who have made this move where it appears to be working out are the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils. The Stars extended Miro Heiskanen for 8 years, as did the Devils with Jack Hughes.

These players have continued to progress, and when we look at their contracts three years from now, we could see them as steals. That is how we have viewed the contracts of Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron for many years.

The Rangers could do the same with Miller. The only obstacle would be him agreeing to the deal. If he is extremely confident in his ability to develop further, he could bet on himself and wait for that big payday.

Trending. Chris Drury must let the NY Rangers grow together. light

In the MLB, Aaron Judge is doing it right now. He turned down a massive contract and is playing the best baseball of his life, and will probably now earn more. We will see if an extension for Miller is something that Drury will explore later in this offseason.