Miller, Fast, Kreider showing they belong

Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Although they were likely in the lineup due to injuries to Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, and Carl Hagelin, the three kids who have been inserted into the lineup have shown that they belong. Both Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller –since their recent call ups– have played significantly better away from the puck, and while there is always room for improvement, they haven’t been liabilities on the ice. Jesper Fast has proven to be a reliable defensive player in limited time as well.

Looking at their #fancystats (via ExtraSkater), all three are above 50% in raw CF%, so they are driving puck possession while they are on the ice. Fast is actually third on the team in CF% at a whopping 58%. Considering his splits in zone starts (OZ – 21.1%, NZ – 43.9%, DZ – 35.1%), this is very impressive. He’s not getting the offensive opportunities that Kreider (OZ – 43.3%) or Miller (OZ – 39.1%) are getting, but he is light years ahead of that duo in maintaining puck possession.

Fast’s +6.5% CF% rel (same concept as CF%, just using Relative Corsi, read up on the Metrics We Use page if you need a refresher) is also third on the team, and shows that comparatively to the rest of his teammates, Fast is a puck possession machine. While that is not the case for Miller and Kreider (yet), they are showing improvements so far.

To show the strides taken by Miller and Kreider, we have to look at last year’s numbers. I apologize in advance, but last year’s numbers were at BTN, so they are not in percentages. However, you should be able to get the point.

Last season Kreider was the worst forward on the team not named Darroll Powe when it came to driving puck possession while on the ice. His -17.77 CorsiON was awful, as was his -25.7 RCorsi. Miller was much better, but still not great at -0.58 CorsiON and -8.5 RCorsi.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

This year is a whole different story for the highly touted rookies. Kreider has a 54.4% CF%, which is showing he is driving puck possession while on the ice. You can compare this to his CorsiON from last season. If Kreider drove puck possession last season, his CorsiON would have been positive. His CF% rel is still in the negatives this season (-6.6%), but it is a far cry from his laughably bad RCorsi from last season (when he was #442 of 447 in RCorsi across the league).

Miller is right up there with Kreider this season with a 51.8% CF% and a -4.4 CF% rel. Improvements on last season, but with room to show that they can elevate their game to a higher level.

Now these are all very small sample sizes, as Kreider (2 GP), Miller (5 GP), and Fast (7 GP) have barely gotten their feet wet this season. For Kreider and Miller, we have seen vast improvements on the way they have played this season. It’s easily noticeable to anyone who watched them last season as well. There is more poise in their respective games, fewer bad decisions, more board work, and –most importantly– more offensive chances generated while on the ice.

As for Fast, he is going to be relied upon as a defensive player and penalty killer. He is averaging 10.7 TOI/60, 1.8 TOI/60 of that is shorthanded. Considering where he is on the puck possession charts, he should be getting some offensive minutes this season as well.

The play of this trio is going to make it tough for the coaching staff to make decisions when Hagelin (this week), Cally (2-3 weeks), and Nash (hopefully soon) return from injury. There are some veterans that are playing for their jobs that may not have expected it in training camp. The kids are (finally) playing complete hockey…so far.

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  • It’s early, but an infusion of youth is always key to great things happening in a season. Look at the rosters of teams that make playoff runs and they more often than not include several young players taking that next step.

    The Rangers need these kids to step up, and while I wouldn’t have made the move for Krider when they did, I’m happy to be wrong (so far).

    Next step for Miller and Kreider is to take the decent oZone start % and puck possession and turn it into points. With the chances Kreider’s line has been generating, I would expect to see this in the near future.

    • I’ve never bought into the “infusion of youth” thing. If they can play, they can play.

      I want to see Kreider/Miller really begin to turn it on with puck possession. Scoring will come as they generate chances.

      • It’s the balance of veterans and youth. I firmly believe that balance is necessary to win in any sport.

        The general point is that you need young players to play above expectations as that is typically the x-factor to winning match-ups that are even on paper.

  • They’re certainly earning the right to stay in NY but will need to start finishing in order to stay up. With three top six forwards coming back they’ll be batting Pyatt (who AV likes more than the fans), Pouliot and Zuc for top 9 minutes.

    Would guess at least 2 get sent back once the roster is fully healthy

  • Glad to see Kreider taking advantage of the opportunity presented him, and busting his hump. I like both of these kids, Miller, and Kreider, and would prefer they stay up, and let the retreads go elsewhere!!

    These kids are our future, and they will prove to everyone that they belong more so than the older guys, have more speed, more upside, and desire to prove themselves.

    • We all want these kids to succeed. The problem was everyone wanted them in two years ago. They needed time. Hopefully this continues.

  • I find Fast’s advanced metrics very surprising, as he hasn’t really passed the eye test. He’s looked soft on the puck, and consistently appears to be outbattled when fighting for loose pucks.

    I thought for sure his play warranted a return stint at Hartford. He may still go when we get out big guns back, but it seems he’s actually been fairly effective. Good for him.

  • The coach does not like young people in his lineup and that is AV history. So he sends most of them to the farm or placed them on the 4th line where they don’t belong. I hope they play well and force their way onto the team. The coach rather have 3 sets of 4th liners play than rookies.
    Its amazing how the team looks great when the goalie does well and the coach looks better.

  • Also, Kreider does not have Torts threatening to get in his head on every play.

    until Cally back should have dumped Pyatt,

    Kreider – Miller – Fast speed line

    when Cally returns put him at RW there
    Kreider – Miller – Callahan

    and go w/ a Swedish line
    Hagelin – Lindberg – Fast

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