Full disclosure: this is pure speculation, but did the Rangers prioritise J.T. Miller when dealing with their own Free Agents? The Rangers wrapped up the Miller situation on Wednesday, agreeing to a new two year bridge deal with a cap hit of 2.65m per year. It’s clearly a prove yourself deal, which goes against the recent league wide trend of committing long term to younger players and is a deal that has frustrated a lot of the Rangers fanbase.
I personally have no problem with a bridge deal. Its already good value for the team, if Miller breaks out in a big way it’s a bargain, and in two years time Miller may indeed get a bigger deal but he’ll also get tied up for a lot longer. Rick Nash, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Tanner Glass (at a minimum) are highly unlikely to be Rangers in two years time. That’s a lot of money coming off the books. Retaining Miller shouldn’t be a problem unless he becomes a 60 goal scorer and demands max terms. But I digress…
With Miller being the first of the Ranger free agents getting an agreement in place; does it beg the questions of whether the Rangers see him as the most important of their free agents? Was he a priority signing?
While Miller has bounced around the line-up, last year was a breakout year for him and he was able to produce with a variety of linemates. He put up good numbers despite getting just over 15 minutes ice time per game.
Chris Kreider struggles with consistency while Dylan McIlrath and Kevin Hayes respective values to the organisation has been much debated. Do the Rangers therefore project Miller as a safer bet long term and is this why he got tended to first?
The Rangers value flexibility and Miller can play all across the line-up, in a variety of positions and roles. If he can improve his defensive play he’s a bonafide top six winger. It will be interesting to see how AV utilises Miller this coming season and how much momentum he can pick up from the World Cup in September but Miller is clearly an important piece for the Rangers.
We don’t know how easy negotiations have been with any of the Rangers RFA’s. That would be pure speculation to suggest Kreider or any of the others have proven tricky. We’ll know how much the Rangers value the rest of the RFAs when terms are eventually released – once the contracts are wrapped up. With that said, the Rangers fanbase shouldn’t worry about the short term nature of JT Miller’s deal. The Rangers clearly value Miller and if he produces, he’ll be a Ranger for a long time yet.