Marty St. Louis Is Out, Should JT Miller Take His Place?
During the Rangers win at MSG on Sunday against Florida, right-wing Martin St. Louis injured his knee when a Panthers defenseman fell on him. St. Louis tried to remain in the game but was seen leaving the bench shortly after. He was able to walk off on his own power but it looks like he will miss the next 4-6 games.
The 38-year-old St. Louis has had an off year by his standards but 20 goals and 27 assists isn’t a terrible season. The time off may benefit the older winger’s legs as the Rangers get set for the playoffs. The issue though is who should replace him on the second line right-wing? Who is the next man up?
St. Louis is more to the Rangers than what he does on the ice.
St. Louis has been a possession nightmare this season. In years past with Tampa Bay, St. Louis was a decent player in this regard. Last season he had a 50.4% Corsi percentage which isn’t great but not bad either.
This season he has been somewhat of a disappointing possession player but was steadily improving the last month. MSL has a 49.2% CF% since February 1, which has his total on the season up to 47%. He was playing at below 45% for the first 4 months of the season. The Rangers could use this time to give a younger player a chance in the NHL or give JT Miller a bigger role.
#NYR Injury Update: Forward Martin St. Louis will be sidelined 10-14 days with a lower-body injury suffered last night vs. Florida.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 16, 2015
JT Miller has had his best season as a regular in the NHL.
JT Miller has had an up and down season in 14/15. He’s been one of the Rangers better forwards on some nights and in the doghouse on others. Against the Sabres he was moved down to the fourth line and then benched for a large portion of the third period. In Washington DC, JT Miller scored the game winner yet he only played 9:33. Since he was placed on the third line with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin, they’ve been the Rangers most consistent line.
The Rangers stand to benefit by giving JT Miller a chance with veteran linemates.
Miller has played the right-wing well since he’s been with the Rangers who don’t have many righties on the active roster. In fact Jesper Fast and Derek Stepan are the only 2 right-handed forwards on the team. With the loss of Kevin Klein to injury, there’s only 4 on the entire 18 man lineup for any given game.
JT Miller is a lefty himself but he seems to play his best hockey on the right side of center. When Derick Brassard was out with the Mumps, Miller played on the top line at center and looked better than he had to that point all season. I would think this may be a chance for the Rangers to see what they have in their 2010 first round draft pick.
What about a call up?
Carl Klingberg has played well in Hartford since coming to the Rangers. Since coming over from Winnipeg in a trade, he has tallied points in 5 of the 6 games he has played. The speedy right-wing from Gotteborg Sweden, could be exactly what the Rangers need in their top six.
Why not add a young kid with good size, exceptional speed, and who has a love of playing in front of the net. Klingberg is a very good forechecker that makes the opposition hate playing against him. He’s a righty stick as well which the Rangers lack in their lineup. I can see a young Carl Klingberg coming in and having an impact on the Rangers roster at this point in the season.
Either way, the Rangers need to get Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider a kick start. Both have slowed down dramatically the last 10 games. Kreider has (1-2) 3 points and Stepan has none. These are important players that the Rangers cannot afford to go scoreless for long. Especially if the Rangers expect to continue winning.
With the pace of play getting closer to that of a playoff game, a good forechecker with speed and two-way ability like Klingberg will help the Rangers. A good possession player with grit that plays a physical game like J.T. Miller in the top 6 would be an improvement as well.