Posts tagged: J.T. Miller
In case you missed it, J.T. Miller was returned to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL this afternoon. Miller was actually sent down on the trade deadline –he had to be sent down to be eligible for the AHL playoffs– and immediately recalled by the Rangers. The organization wanted his wrist to be examined by team doctors and not the AHL doctors. It appears that his wrist has healed, so he’s off to the Whale for quality minutes.
J.T. Miller has been recalled for tonight’s game against the Penguins. He was initially returned to Connecticut with Chris Kreider earlier in the day, but the trade of Marian Gaborik necessitated a recall for the game. Kreider was not recalled. Miller was sent down initially so that he would be eligible for the AHL playoffs.
The Rangers stated that they called him up on an emergency basis, in case the newly acquired players could not arrive in time. Since then, news has broke that John Moore and Derek Brassard will arrive in time for the game. Ryane Clowe was already in New York.
According to the AHL website, the Rangers have sent J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider to the CT Whale. Coach John Tortorella expressed concern that the magnitude of the virtual playoff games the Blueshirts are playing right now might be too much for the two, so these transactions aren’t a surprise.
The moves clear over $2 million in cap space and ensure that both Miller and Kreider will be eligible for the AHL playoffs. It is possible that New York is looking to acquire another forward today.
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.
The time has come where the Rangers need to make a decision on rookie J.T. Miller. Miller played his fifth game last night, and once he plays his sixth game, the first year of his entry-level deal will count. If the Rangers send him back to the AHL, and do not use him for a single NHL game for the rest of the year, including the playoffs, then his deal will slide once more. If his deal slides, then his initial ELC won’t expire until after the 2015-2016 season. If he plays one more game, it expires a year early.
With the new CBA, the salary cap is going to drop to $64.3 million next season, and likely drop again the season following. This puts additional strain on the Rangers, who have three key RFAs (Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh) this season. The added cost certainty of Miller’s ELC will go a long way to keeping the core pieces in blue.
JT Miller has been a pleasant surprise in his brief stay with the Rangers this season. His call up has coincided with (perhaps even caused) the re-emergence of the Rangers much anticipated offensive depth, and has caused players such as Brian Boyle to find themselves in the press box or with less prominent roles.
Whether we see Miller much longer in New York however, remains to be seen. Last season Carl Hagelin’s introduction to the Rangers also created a spark and the young speedy Swede forced the Rangers to keep him on the roster. Miller could conceivably do the same thing, albeit with slightly different circumstances. However, the Rangers could choose to use Miller as a spark for the rest of the roster and that’s it.
They may choose to place Miller back in the AHL and see if he can elevate his game there following his fine Broadway introduction. This move would preserve that first year of his entry contract. Miller could be used as the ‘threat’ to the roster. Every coach wants options and Miller offers John Tortorella a viable threat to established roster players who aren’t performing. They’ve seen how Miller has coped with the transition to the NHL seamlessly and will not want to sit.
Countless factors go into individual player evaluations, but one quality continues to dictate how the Rangers construct their roster: speed.
It’s not exactly a new revelation, the altered NHL demands that players possess speed and skill as the league has phased out the plodding physical specimens that were impact players in the 1990s. But few franchises have put as strong an emphasis on skating ability as New York. Just look at three of the team’s most recent first-round picks: Chris Kreider, JT Miller and Brady Skjei. What do all have in common? Tremendous skating ability.
There’s simply no room on Broadway, especially under coach John Tortorella, for players that can’t outskate the opposition.
Today we are going to take a deeper look at the Rangers recent moves. Though the team played better in Tampa the other night, the bottom six hasn’t been very consistent and clearly Torts and Sather thought a change was needed. Below we’ve put together a qualitative analysis, or as Dave likes to call it – the eye test. If there’s an interest in the quantitative/advanced stats-type stuff. Let us know. Dave can whip that together.
What the Rangers lose – Size, fights, veteran leadership
I was one of the few advocates of having a guy like Mike Rupp in the lineup. Most people who didn’t play organized hockey growing up have a hard time evaluating 4th line guys, so I get the disconnect some fans had with his presence in the lineup. For me, Rupp was exactly what you need from a 4th line role player.
Rupper was a leader in the locker room, as evidenced by Torts constantly seeking Rupp’s input at key times (shown in 24/7). He stood up for his teammates (remember Tomas Kopecky sucker punching MDZ last year? Rupp was the first guy in). He also played well in a limited role during the playoffs, bringing a good forecheck and puck management.
In the second big move of the day, the Rangers have called up forwards J.T. Miller and Brandon Mashinter from the CT Whale, and returned Benn Ferriero to the AHL. Despite impressing in his debut, Ferriero saw reduced time on the ice, and with the acquisition of Darroll Powe, the writing may have been on the wall for the forward. This won’t be his last trip to the NHL.
In eight games with the Whale, Mashinter has a line of 3-4-7 and has been one of the best forwards on the ice. Miller, the Rangers prized prospect, has a line of 8-12-20 in 37 games, and has really picked up his game since his slow start to the season.