Time to demote J.T. Miller

Like Chris Kreider did, J.T. Miller needs more time in Hartford

With apologies to Taylor Pyatt, the forward roster last night finally resembled the one Ranger fans were so excited about over the summer.

The lineup didn’t include J.T. Miller, but coach Alain Vigneault insisted yesterday that Miller would be back on the ice with the Blueshirts soon.  But barring further injuries, the team’s top-six is clearly set, and Miller will likely be stuck with fourth-line minutes even when he does play.

In fact, Miller hasn’t played more than 9:14 in any of his last six games dating back to November 2, just after Carl Hagelin’s return.  In the nine games before that, Miller had averaged 13:17, a pretty big number for a young player.  But as Hagelin, Ryan Callahan, Dominic Moore and finally Rick Nash were reinserted into the lineup, Miller’s ice-time dipped lower and lower until he was finally sent to the press box.

As the Rangers should have learned with Chris Kreider, it’s foolish to keep a player in the NHL when he clearly isn’t ready.  Just a few weeks in the AHL can go a long way – remember, Kreider had an awful training camp, but played like a man possessed after being recalled a month later.  Miller still has a very bright future in New York, and he might even have a major role to play this season.  But keeping him around to play so little or not at all is the wrong decision.

Injuries limited Vigneault’s options for much of the season, but the Rangers’ new coach now has plenty of able players to choose from.  Pyatt is nearly ready to return, and though he’s played poorly, it’s still smarter to use him for a handful of minutes on the fourth line than stifle Miller’s development in that role.  Vigneault could also recall Brandon Mashinter, who has been steady if unspectacular in six games with New York this season, or Darroll Powe, who had a tremendous training camp and is off to a very good start with the Wolf Pack.

None of those players are nearly as intriguing for Rangers fans, but they’re proven NHL grinders that can easily handle eight minutes a game just as well (if not better) than Miller.  Guys like Pyatt, Mashinter and Powe don’t stand to gain from time in Hartford at this point in their careers, but 20 minutes a night in the minors for a couple months could make all the difference for Miller down the stretch, and into the future.

12 Responses to “Time to demote J.T. Miller”

  1. paulronty says:

    Sorry but it’s time to demote Pouliot not Miller. And bring up Danny Kristo & put he & Miller on a line with Brassard. And tell AV that Boyle should be a permanent 4th line winger.

  2. Todd says:

    IMO, Boyle played a feisty game last night. He is know Lucic but I liked the way he went after Chara after Chara nailed him.
    That is not to say he should be in the top six, but I can see him getting more ice time than a 4th liner if he continues to play with an edge. Who knows maybe he will fill the net! BTW I am not a big Boyle fan.
    Maybe it is time to say good bye to Pouliot and Pyatt and see what some of the kids in Hartford can do as a bottom six line.

  3. Dave says:

    Miller needs those top six minutes in the AHL. Keeping him here does nothing for him.

  4. phil says:

    agree on all the above!

  5. AD says:

    The drawback to this assessment is there is no discussion at all of 3rd line NHL minutes for Miller, yet there seems to be high comfort with awarding those same 3rd line minutes to Pouliot or Pyatt. It’s a fact these guys have spent the vast majority of their on ice time this season on the 3rd line or better. Miller has played better than both all season, but mostly on the 4th line. If 4th line is best he can get, then yes, send him to the AHL for top line minutes.

    But an equally obvious solution which, for some reason does not get mentioned, is to place him on the 3rd line with the same level of patience afforded Pouliot and Pyatt. In my view, only Boyle deserves 3rd line minutes over Miller; not Pyatt, Powe, Pouliot or, most recently, Dorsett (who I like very much).

    To say Miller is “obviously not ready” is an opinion which anyone is entitled to, but overlooks the fact his coach last season awarded him ~20 games and his coach this season awarded him games as well; so how can it be that he is “obviously” not ready when his coaches are suggesting he might be?

    Also, it hasn’t been pointed out that Pouliot, Pyatt and Powe carry higher cap hits. In the case of Pyatt, for example, he is a $1.55m hit vs $890k for Miller….is Pyatt that much more productive than Miller? I personally doubt it and frankly don’t think he is better at all; in a cap constrained world, yes that extra $600k has value to overall team personnel management (could be the difference between making a trade or not, in some cases).

    4th line or AHL? That’s easy: go with AHL top six minutes. But let’s “keep it real” and recognize AV has not given Miller the same 3rd line opportunities he has given veterans who have arguably performed at a lower level than Miller this season.

  6. Steve says:

    There seems to be a disconnect between the coaching staff and the front office. Torts wanted to keep Kreider in CT and said he wasn’t ready, yet the front office kept calling him up. One of the first things AV did this season was send Kreider down and it paid off.

    Now Miller is in the same boat. Send the kid down! Let him build his confidence back up and play in every situation. What good is it if he plays 6 minutes a night?

    Sather has to start trusting his coaches more!

  7. Bloomer says:

    Agreed, if Miller isn’t getting minutes or games in for that matter send him back to the farm. Still can’t see why Sather signed Pouliot in the off season. Did Sather actually watch him play prior to the signing? Anyhow, ya if AV would rather have a floater in the lineup then a kid who digs, puts out and get better every game, I guess as coach that’s his right(blank stare into the distance).

  8. supermaz says:

    Kreider -Stepan -Zucc
    Hagelin -Brassard -Nash
    Miller-Richards-Callahan
    Boyle -Moore-Dorsett

    Yes its that easy.

    • Bob says:

      Richards is playing better than Brassard so I would switch them. Otherwise looks good. If Zucc falters, he can be swapped with Nash or Callahan.

  9. bernmeister says:

    Agree w/ paulronty on demote Pouliot not Miller. As to bring up Danny Kristo, that we can do when there is a spot.

    Trade Pouliot + Dorsett anything over cap relief is fine.

    Would do Stepan+ for Jones, or Ristolainen +.

    Superspeed line (ideal to max AV system) is
    Kreider -Miller – Callahan

    Sweet Swede line is
    Hagelin – Lindberg – Fast (not much slower)

    Richards-Brassard -Nash top line

    Boyle -Moore- Yogan/Haley*

    Zucc is the spare
    Mashinter next

    I think we run out of options on Yogan soon, don’t wanna lose him for nothing.

    See if he adds or trade him