J.T. Miller is having a career year. He’s having the kind of year I always thought he was capable of. Now at the age of 23 it all seems to be clicking for him.
In his first 22 games this season he has 19 points. For some unknown reason he seems to be the straw that stirs the drink. When the Rangers beat the Flyers, Miller recorded a point. That point had a stat line attached to it. Going into that game the Blueshirts were 13-0 when he recorded a point and after that win it was 14-0. That’s called having an impact. Was Miller aware of this stat?
“I have no idea,” Miller stated.
After the initial exchange his teammate and locker neighbor, Mats Zuccarello got involved. When Miller asked what he thought about that 14-0 stat? He responded with, “No, and you need to score more.”
This was quickly becoming a fun locker room exchange between teammates and I was now the pawn in the conversation. I tried to get Miller talking about how his points may be lifting the team. He opened that up for interpretation as well.
“I’m playing with a lot of great players. We’re rolling in 4 lines that are fresh on the ice. It makes it look better,” Miller added. Then he asked what “Zucc” thought?
Again, Zuccarello follows that up with, “He needs to score more.”
In the end Miller’s physical play, speed and greasy scoring ability has given the Rangers a dynamic that they’ve been yearning for. The Ohio native has been getting rewarded in the win column and on the scoresheet so far and that’s made him more valuable than he’s ever been to this team.
“I just try and be consistent. Make a play when I get a chance and use my physicality when I get a chance. I think I’m more engaged when I’m doing that. Like I said the team is playing good so it’s easy to say I look good.”
Miller is leading New York Rangers forwards with hits and this year he’s been one of the most valuable players on the roster. This past July Miller signed a bridge deal. Two years, $5.5 million and a small signing bonus. Will the Rangers regret that deal down the road? They might if he continues on and has 50-60 points this season and possibly next year as well. Last season he had a career-high of 43 points. He seems poised to break that by a pretty fair margin this year.
New York Rangers draft table photo by Mike del Tufo.