J.T. Miller has no bad feeling or grudges towards the New York Rangers or Alain Vigneault. He is focused on the Tampa Bay Lightning and their high expectations of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals.
As the New York Rangers organization was preparing to break up the current roster in early February, one name not mentioned to be on the move was forward J.T. Miller. Turns out, Miller was a key piece that Tampa Bay’s GM Steve Yzerman insisted on and that was probably the best thing that could have happened to Miller.
The Rangers first-round pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, Miller was in the middle of a frustrating season as were his former teammates. Things were so bad for the forward that in the last few days as a Ranger that he found himself demoted to the fourth line playing with Peter Holland and Cody Mcleod.
It appeared that Miller and then head coach Alain Vigneault were not on the same page when it came to playing style and defensive coverage. When the 2017-2018 season began, expectations were high for Miller as were his new responsibilities. The Rangers were short at the center position after trading away Derek Stepan to Arizona last June and losing center Oscar Lindberg to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion draft.
Miller was switched back and forth between his wing and center as the coaching staff could never really settle on where he would fit best. This affected his play and his scoring. It never worked out for the team or the player.
Speaking with Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Miller was honest about his time with the Blueshirts.
“So when it went down, I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t offended. Not at all. I didn’t take it personally. It was just kind of [a] weird feeling, but the way it ended in New York, those last few weeks, it was strange for everybody.”
The last few weeks Miller was referring to was the time following the infamous “letter to the fans” where the organization announced to the fans that changes would be coming.
Miller has found his game once again playing in Tampa Bay. How could he not? Miller went from the fourth line in New York to the number one line in Tampa Bay. He is now on one of the best lines in the National Hockey League with linemates Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Miller recorded 18 points (eight goals with 10 assists) in 19 regular season games with the Lighting. He has one assist in the three playoff games played this postseason.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Miller explained to Brooks. “it’s a special team that has a great opportunity to win. Everyone here understands that and embraces that. I’m thrilled they wanted me.”
Miller will be a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs. He will be in the $5 million per year category, which is another reason the Rangers might have traded him. Regardless, things are working out well for him now, as the Rangers are in his review mirror.
Trades can be a tough situation for any player to have to go through, Miller has handled well. I’m sure it helped when you get traded with a friend, such as Ryan McDonagh, going to a team with such skill and talent as the Tampa Bay Lightning.