Of all the players the Rangers have moved, one will haunt them for years
Over the last few years, the Rangers have moved a lot of key players from the lineup. We aren’t talking about players like Nick Holden or Matt Puempel, no we have some big names gone in just the last 2 seasons.
Key Players Gone
In the 2016-2017 season, the Rangers traded or let go the likes of; Keith Yandle, Derrick Brassard, and Eric Staal. Then the 2017-18 season brought an even bigger overhaul. Starting before the draft the Rangers bought out Dan Girardi, and traded a ton of players.
Big names like; Derek Stepan, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Grabner were sent packing. Still, when you look at all these names the one I left out is the one player that will likely haunt the Rangers for years to come.
Full disclosure, I am an unabashed fan of every aspect of J.T. Miller’s game. The 25 year old winger has all the tools you can ask for in a young player. He has size at 6’1″ and 218 lbs, plus he uses it well in the corners and in front. Miller has decent speed, which coupled with his on ice vision makes him an excellent playmaker.
In his last 2 full NHL seasons, he has posted 56, and 58 points respectively. Did I mention he has played in all 82 games in the last 4 years, showing his durability. All these factors plus his character looks like that of a future captain and why Steve Yzerman was insistent on getting him in the McDonagh blockbuster.
Since he arrived in Tampa he has excelled, scoring 10 goals and 8 assists to close out the regular season. Now he’s added 1 goal and 3 assists in 4 playoff games as the Lightning are 1 game from advancing to round 2.
No, it’s not just his linemates!
Many Rangers fans, and some “experts” dismiss this big uptick in offensive production to his linemates. Miller has for the most part played with the likes of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. There’s no doubt that is a factor, but to discredit Miller’s contribution to that line, as if he is pylon in front of the net and pucks are bouncing off his ass is beyond ridiculous.
No, Miller has loads of talent and shame on Alain Vigneault and the Rangers to get a glimpse of that in 2015 and failing to nurture it. In the conference finals against Tampa, the Rangers struggling for offense put Miller on a unit with Rick Nash and Derrick Brassard and the line combined for 13 points to force a game 7.
That was Miller’s first ever playoff goal and likely the day Steve Yzerman took note of him. Now Miller and a group of former Blueshirts are going to play a huge part in what could be a Stanley Cup season for the Lightning.
Haunting the Rangers For Years
Next summer, Miller will be up for another contract as an RFA. Yzerman will do his best to lock up him up for at least 4 seasons. What should be noted is that whenever Miller eventually hits UFA status, he dreams of playing for his childhood favorite team, the Penguins.
No matter what, Miller seems destined to be in the Eastern Conference for a long time. As he continues to mature and his offensive abilities improve, Miller will remain a nightmare for the Rangers. A bad dream that will only get worse with every Miller goal and eventual Championships.
Of course, there’s only one way to make that pill less bitter to swallow…
That’s the Rangers winning a Cup of their own soon.