New York Rangers’ Third-Line Center Spot is open for J.T. Miller
For a team with the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard and others, it is hard to imagine that there are any open spots in the New York Rangers’ lineup this season.
Luckily for Blueshirts’ youngster J.T. Miller, that is not the case. Miller, 21, is looking for a permanent home under Broadway’s bright lights after spending much of last season with the team’s farm club down in Connecticut.
The team had bright hopes for Miller last year. Miller, a player that has a lot of speed and soft hands, struggled with the big club last season in 30 games and only had six points (three goals and three assists). Rangers’ head coach Alain Vigneault did everything he could to get Miller going. He gave Miller a shot on each of the team’s lines, had him play on the power play, and gave him a decent amount of ice time.
Unfortunately for Miller, things simply did not work out with the organization’s varsity team. Down in the American Hockey League, Miller played a lot better and picked-up some confidence in the process.
In 42 games with the Whale, Miller was just about a point-per-game player as he had 41 points (15 goals and 27 assists) in 42 games. He played in all situations, played well at both ends of the ice and ultimately found himself back with the big club for four games during the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.
While Miller did not exactly light it up in his cup of coffee in the NHL’s second season, he did pick-up two assists and average over nine minutes of ice time per game. Overall, it was a valuable experience for a young player looking to be consistent in the NHL. This all leads us to this season. With the number one and two centers booked with Stepan and Brassard, the third line centerman position is open and as of this writing, Miller is the prime candidate to land that role.
Who Will Be The New York Rangers Third Line Center Come Opening Night? http://t.co/Z3I6HdBg04
— Blue Line Station (@BlueLineStation) September 6, 2014
For starters, there is no doubt that Miller has offensive talent. In last night’s 5-4 pre-season loss to the New Jersey Devils, Miller had two assists and according to Vigneault, did some other things right along the way, which is something he expressed to the media after the game. Jim Cerny of Blueshirts United captured these comments:
J.T. had some good moments. You can see his skillset, and he battled hard on the puck.
Secondly, Miller has a nose for the net with the puck. On his team’s first two goals of the game in the third period, his ability to go to the net with the puck and make a smart pass shown through and with some steady linemates during the year, that could lead to some good production.
Lastly, Miller might know what it takes to be a regular in the NHL. Being sent down to the AHL is never an easy thing, but Miller took that in stride and has come into the new season looking to prove that he belongs with the big boys.
While it is obviously too early to tell what kind of season Miller is going to have this year, it is easy to see that Miller looks a lot more poised and confident on the ice, two things that could help lead to a successful season this year in what will be an important step in Miller’s young career.[/vc_column_text][dt_fancy_separator separator_style=”dotted” separator_color=”accent”][/vc_column][/vc_row]