J.T. Miller has the potential to be something great and his departure from the New York Rangers should allow him to reach that potential.
It’s hard to say that, considering the 24-year-old was having another solid season with the Blueshirts prior to his trade Monday afternoon. The former first-round draft pick had scored 40 points for the Rangers, which ranked second on the team behind Mats Zuccarello.
No matter how much progress Miller made, however, he always ran into one problem: Alain Vigneault. Miller brought a different element to the Rangers top-six forwards group. A physical player with tons of talent offensively, Miller was subject to falling in Vigneault’s doghouse often.
Early on Miller’s career that was understandable as Vigneault wanted him to focus on his defensive game. Miller would almost always respond to being benched or being dropped to the fourth line, but this just shows how he was never given room to flourish.
His acquisition by the Lightning will give him a legitimate chance to do that and more. Tampa already has the depth at the center position which means Miller will most likely play fulltime at the wing position. With the Rangers, he never had a set position as he was transitioned back and forth between center and the wing.
With Miller playing on the wing, he might have the chance to play with superstar Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Both players are extremely talented offensively and Miller can only add to that. If you look at the point totals of Miller, Stamkos, and Kucherov combined, they would have 193 points (70 goals, 123 assists). With the Blueshirts, Miller found himself most recently playing with Jimmy Vesey and Jesper Fast.
Miller has made a ton of progress over his six-year career. As long as remained a Ranger under Vigneault, he would never be able to reach his full potential. This trade allows for him to move on and become the player the Rangers thought he could be when they drafted him 15th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.