2022 Rangers report card: K’Andre Miller’s growth into a top defenseman
K’Andre Miller’s growth in the 2021-2022 season is something few expected. It’s not to say we didn’t expect him to take a step forward, but to be the steadiest presence on the blue line in the playoffs? No, none of us saw that coming. Especially not early in the season, when he had his struggles. I even said on Live From The Blue Seats (returning soon!) that he may be the odd man out on the blue line in the future.
I’m happy to be wrong.
K’Andre Miller’s growth last season
Miller’s rookie campaign in 2021 was a solid one, but definitely one with rookie mistakes. Miller had a bunch of mistakes early in his 2021-2022 season too, but how quickly those tables turned is still unbelievable.
K’Andre Miller’s growth this season made him the best defensive player on the Rangers.
To repeat: K’Andre Miller had the best defensive season on the Rangers last season, based on puck possession metrics. But you didn’t need the possession metrics to know that. You saw plays like this on Seth Jarvis.
K'Andre Miller catches up to Seth Jarvis, knocks him off the puck to take away a scoring chance. pic.twitter.com/uXq9yKW8kx
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 19, 2022
Miller’s stick work, positioning, and defensive awareness took major leaps forward this season. When you add that to his natural skill and speed, it makes him a force to be reckoned with.
While Miller hasn’t been lighting it up offensively, he’s shown he has the ability to do so, and the offensive numbers beyond his 7-13-20 will continue to grow. But in the mean time, his defensive ability gave Jacob Trouba the confidence to join the play offensively, resulting in his career high in goals (11).
Trouba has always excelled with partners who lean more defensively, and this duo makes another perfect complementary pair to Lindgren/Fox. Given how quickly K’Andre Miller’s growth has come, and some questions about whether the Rangers can afford to keep Lindgren beyond this coming season, it makes you wonder if Miller can be moved up to the top pair.
So far, he’s shown he can. There was very little to complain about with Miller’s game last season. The sky is the limit with him.
Wardrobe Grade: A+