Is JT Miller Going To Be Part Of The Rangers Future?
With the trade deadline inching closer and closer, the Rangers have already begun conducting business. On Tuesday, Nick Holden was traded to the Boston Bruins for a 3rd round pick and blue line “prospect” Rob O’Gara. While it is not the most exciting trade, Holden’s trade signaled the unofficial beginning of the Rangers fire sale. As we are waiting for the next trade chip to fall, let’s take a look at one player that has not been mentioned in any trade rumors, at least that I have seen, in JT Miller.
JT Miller has been an integral part of the Rangers team for the past few seasons. The 24-year-old wing/center has been a regular in the team’s lineup since the 2014-2015 season. In six seasons with the Rangers, Miller has produced 170 points (71G, 99A) in 338 games. In addition, Miller has increased his point total every year, culminating in a 56 point performance last season. So far this season, Miller has produced 38 points (12G, 26A) in 60 games. Although slightly off his pace from last year, Miller should come close to 50 points again this season. Miller has been bounced around between lines and from wing to center and back again. Between that and the injuries to key Rangers players, Miller’s drop off in production is to be expected.
While McDonagh, Zuccarello, Nash, and Grabner are the main trade targets, there has been some speculation that Miller could be dangled as a piece to help quicken the Rangers rebuild. The question then becomes, should the Rangers trade Miller or keep him around for the rebuild.
JT Miller should be traded. By the time the Rangers are competitive again, Miller will be at the back-end of his prime while his contract will be much higher than it currently is. Miller will be on a contract worth around $5M per season, which is not terrible. However, the assets that Miller could bring back would be worth just as much while costing far less. Miller is worth at least a 1st rounder and a high-end prospect. The return for Miller, while not a known commodity, would help set the Rangers up for continued success. If the Rangers are able to replace Miller’s value with an ELC that produces close to the same, they will save that much more cap space. This cap space would allow the Rangers to sign or trade for players to fill the holes in their lineup.
JT Miller should not be traded. Depending on how the Rangers decisions and choices go in the next few days and months, the Rangers could be competitive again in as little as two years. Miller will be an affordable, 55+ point scorer that can play center or wing. In addition, Miller will be at the height of his prime as the Rangers re-enter contention. It is not unreasonable to think that Miller could be a 60 point player on a competitive team in a top-six role. And when the Rangers do re-enter contention, they will need veteran leadership that has experienced long playoff runs. Miller will be one of the few players that will have the experience of multiple deep playoff runs. Miller is also one of the few players on the Rangers current roster that plays with an edge, although sporadically. In the playoffs, the ice gets smaller and the games get chippier. Skilled players that are able to play with an edge provide their team a huge advantage.
While the Rangers are entering into a re-building phase with McDonagh, Zuccarello, Nash, and Grabner at the forefront, JT Miller may be the Rangers toughest decision. There are strong cases to be made for both sides. Ultimately, the Rangers will do what they believe is the right choice. I personally believe that keeping Miller is the right move. Unless the Rangers receive a superior offer, there is no reason to move on yet from a player that has yet to enter their prime.