J.T. Miller has blossomed into one of the top players on the New York Rangers and now deserves to get top player minutes.
We’ve always heard that it’s “Miller Time.” However, now it should be “More Miller Time” with the way J.T. Miller has been playing for the New York Rangers.
The Blueshirts took J.T. Miller with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and he has been everything they could have hoped for. Now, it’s time to give him a bigger role on the ice.
Miller had to work hard to find favor with head coach Alain Vigneault, who challenged the young Miller to become a better all-around player. With that, it took time for Miller to develop into the type of player he is now. His overall game is the best it has ever been and it’s time for Vigneault to reward him for his efforts.
Currently playing on a line with David Desharnais and Jimmy Vesey, Miller has been producing points at a point-a-game clip. He’s recorded 14 points in 15 games while being dependable in the defensive zone on top of playing a physical game.
Starting with his ability to be aggressive with the body, Miller is playing a smart, physical two-way game. Following Saturday night’s game with the Florida Panthers, Miller has only seen four minutes in the penalty box. Over the course of his short career, Miller has been able to stay out of the box while playing a physically aggressive game and keeping his team at even strength.
There have been numerous times this season where a player on the top two lines has taken bad penalties, which ultimately put a damper on what would have been good starts for the Rangers.
Miller’s creativity and ability to make things happen have been extremely evident this season, despite playing mostly with third line players. Of his 14 points this season, 11 of them have come off of assists. Allowing Miller to play with some of the top players on the team will give him a chance to flaunt his creativity even more.
A way for Miller to show his creativity would be to give him more time on the power play. Saturday night against the Panthers, Miller’s creativity was on full display.
As Miller got the defender to commit to him, he noticed McDonagh at the point and fed him a nice backhand pass to set up a deflection for a 4-3 lead. These are the types of plays that Miller brings to the table on a power play. Alain Vigneault needs to find a way to give Miller more time on the power play because when he’s out there, he’s producing. Miller has recorded four points in limited time on the power play so far this season and seeing more time will give him the chance to make a far bigger impact.
Last season, Miller became an integral part of the Rangers’ penalty kill. That hasn’t been the case this year, as Miller only sees time at even strength and with a man advantage. With Miller on the penalty kill last year, the Rangers found themselves with several opportunities but wound up shorthanded. Even with the shorthanded chances, Miller was responsible in his own end. Getting him back on the penalty kill will have him playing in all three important game situations.
The ability to play multiple positions has hurt Miller, considering that the team doesn’t feel that they need another center. With that, Miller finds himself playing on the wing which also doesn’t bode well for the 24-year-old.
It’s tough to break up the line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich because of how effective they have been in this young season. This only leaves the second line which currently has Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello seeing time on the ice. The solution to getting Miller more time is simple here: move Nash down.
When looking at the Blueshirts’ lines, it’s astounding to see the lack of production they are getting from their second line. Nash and Hayes only have six points on the season, while Zuccarello has only five points at even strength. Moving Nash or Zuccarello is normally an extremely hard move to sell. With the lack of production from two of the most important Rangers, moving them makes sense.
Placing Miller on that second line gives the Rangers a completely different look to them. Subbing in a player playing on the level that Miller is at now isn’t a luxury that most teams have. Plus, moving Nash or Zuccarello allows them to find their game against less experienced players.
No one is saying that J.T. Miller is a superstar by any means. However, at the rate he is going at right now, he has the potential to be one this year. Playing him on a third line is foolish. It’s time that Vigneault finally gives Miller the promotion he deserves and allows Miller to become part of the Rangers top-six.