The Rangers clearly need help on their blueline and have a well documented surplus of forwards up front so it stands to reason that multiple Rangers forwards would be connected to trade rumours given their uneven line-up. That doesn’t mean Jeff Gorton should be in a rush to move kids such as J.T. Miller for blueline help.
My personal feeling is that the Rangers would be making a monumental mistake if they wind up trading J.T. Miller, almost regardless of the return he brings. Miller’s development curve has been trending upwards for a long time now. Miller is still young, has good speed and size, a cap friendly contract and is a home-grown, cost controlled asset with yet more upside. All of these merits and yet we haven’t mentioned Miller can play all over the line up and in every different scenario. You don’t trade that kind of player.
If the asking price for Jacob Trouba is Miller, Brady Skjei and a draft pick then the Rangers should walk away. That’s simply too much, especially for a franchise that’s still replenishing their prospect pool. What I most like about Miller is that he’s clearly learning on the job. You can see this season how Miller is – more than ever – getting into the right positions on the ice. His on-ice intelligence is developing. His goal against Arizona was exhibit A.
Following good work down low and sending the puck back to an open Ryan McDonagh Miller went straight to the net looking for the re-direct. He was rewarded for going to the dangerous areas and the more you watch him the more you get the feeling his ‘nose for the net’ is getting better all the time. In short, Miller is growing into a dangerous offensive player.
Without a huge amount of ice time and rarely having a consistent role or line mates, Miller is quietly approaching 100 points as a Ranger and could be in line for a first 50+ point season if he continues the way he’s started this year. It’s crucial that the Rangers keep hold and build around players such as Miller and not always trade them away.
This past decade the Rangers have been successful because of their strong core and their goaltending. They don’t/didn’t have the obvious Star power that a Pittsburgh or a Washington have been blessed with. Depth has been one of the Rangers features and moving a package of assets (including Miller) is not the route to further, sustained success.
It’s easy to forget that Miller is still only 23. He has so much left to give the Rangers. He has a career shooting percentage around 11% and that’s something that’s been going up the more time and opportunity that he’s been given and he’s a rare blend of skill and physicality. The NHL is moving away from physically intimidating players and is now home to players with skill who can use their bodies effectively on the ice. That’s exactly the type of player Miller promises to be for the Rangers.
If the Rangers don’t continue to give Miller the opportunity to establish himself and grow, they’d be making a mistake. He’s the type of player they need to build around. If they trade him, that mistake would only be more significant, one they would eventually deeply regret.