Addressing Chris Kreider’s and J.T. Miller’s ice time

Kreider and Miller. The future, but maybe not the present.

Kreider and Miller. The future, but maybe not the present.

Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller have seen diminishing ice time over the past few games, getting to a point where neither received a shift after the mid-point of the second period in last night’s win. Coach John Tortorella has stated that he is worried about the kids, especially at this time of the year:

“Quite honestly, I am worried about the two kids. I am not upset with them, I just think that the stakes are high and I just have to watch how they go through the game.”

This shouldn’t surprise many, but it has been the cause of some very heated debates. Some have even gone as far as calling for Tortorella’s head because he refuses to play the kids. Some have said that he is hurting their development. Before we go blindly bashing the coach, there are a few points to consider.

First and foremost, neither kid was ready for the NHL level. The shortened season forced the Rangers’ hand, and Kreider was given a spot he did not earn in January, and Miller has stayed on the roster much longer than his play dictated. This isn’t a slight against the kids, they are both solidly in place as future cornerstones of this franchise, but this is about development and their current play at the NHL level.

Kreider was sent to Connecticut in February because he could not play without the puck. Torts is a coach that demands two-way hockey, and even in sheltered minutes. If you look at the chart here (select Rangers from the drop down), the bottom right bubble is Kreider under “sheltered.” J.T. Miller’s bubble is above the X-axis there, which leans towards two-way, but is still also a little sheltered.

Despite playing these minutes, both kids have been guilty of ghastly turnovers that have cost the team goals. In a playoff race where every game counts, the team can’t have two kids giving the puck up so much. Every point matters.

In a normal season, it’s unlikely that these kids would have seen regular NHL time. But with no preseason to assess where they (or the team) were, they were given roster spots and trial by fire treatment. With the Trade Deadline looming, both kids could see themselves (rightfully) sent back to the AHL to round out their games. This is the same treatment that Michael Del Zotto got, and it worked out pretty well for him.

Kreider and Miller are important pieces for this team. Their development is crucial for their future success. However, proper development does not necessarily mean NHL minutes. If the coaching staff feels that they are best served getting top minutes against weaker competition in the AHL, then both kids will be sent back, and the club will address their needs at the trade deadline.

11 Responses to “Addressing Chris Kreider’s and J.T. Miller’s ice time”

  1. Tim B says:

    Lets say both Miller and Kreider are sent doen this week and the Rangers make no trades tomorrow

    Nash-Stepan-Cally
    Hags-Richards-Gaborik
    Pyatt-Boyle-?Fast?
    Asham-Powe-?

    Holes in the roster are not good. If this were to happen then i’d assume Newbury and Ferriero would be called up. Doesnt make sense as Newbury was sent down on sunday.

    Now lets say the Rangers make a trade and Millet and Kreider are sent down

    Nash-Stepan-Cally
    Hags-Richards-Gaborik?
    Pyatt?-Boyle?- ? fast?
    Asham-Powe-?

    Now the question marks are there ause either that player could be traded/ a player is traded for 2 players that could fill roster spots. If Gaborik is traded and the Rangers do not get a top 6 forward (unlikely) than who would replace Gaborik? We’ve seen Pyatt play on the top 6 and play ok. But he is not the answer.. Who knows how long Fast is gonna be here for.

  2. steve says:

    point taken…but why is torts bad mouthing hagelin? what does he expect from him that he hasnt gotten? how can he be expected to really contribute offensively skating with pyatt and boyle?

    • Ray says:

      Haven’t seen many games, but I thought Hagelin held Stepan, Nash back against the Flyers. That said, has the Boyle-Pyatt duo been on the ice for a single Ranger goal this season.

    • Walt says:

      Steve

      Your seeing what I talked about last week. I said that Torts lost the team by calling them out publicly, and now he’s on Hag’s case. Yet, earlier he told Gabby to watch Hags, and do what he is doing. Torts, you can’t have it both ways!!

      I believe the man is a nut case!!

  3. steve says:

    those lines above ignore the norwegian hobbit

  4. nyr1579 says:

    Haglin held back nash and stepan? you’re right, you havent seen many games.

    • Ray says:

      I didn’t mean slow. I meant ineffective. Stepan was the best player on the ice in that game and Nash was being Nash. No doubt Hagelin was the weakest member of the trio. I had the feeling they could have scored more with a different third person (and they did last night with Callahan!)

  5. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I can understand Tortorella’s predicament. It is a shortned season and he does not have the luxury of allowing Miller and Kreider to play at will. He has a whole team to be concerened about not just these two rookies. The hope is that the players are being coached and communicated with as they are getting experience for the following seasons where they should make an impact. They are getting mentored by the likes of Richards, Nash and yes even Gaborik. And finally they are becoming members of the NY Rangers and building chemistry with the likes of Stepan, McDonagh and Hagelin

  6. SalMerc says:

    If Kreider and JT are not NHL ready, then we should stick with Ferrerio and Powe? Not so sure that helps a woeful offense, although they may make less mistakes. Torts needs to get Gabby going. Either with Richards or Stepan, but Gabby as a 3rd or 4th liner crushes his confidence and just puts together another no-O 3rd or 4th line. I would rather see Gabby and Zucc wingers to JT and use Girardi and McDonnogh as much as possible with them to see if they can create something. Send Kreider down.