After news broke that the New York Rangers‘ leader in points this season, Mats Zuccarello, has a small fracture in his left hand due to blocking a shot in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics for Team Norway, it became quite obvious that he will most likely miss some time with the Rangers when the NHL resumes play next week.
There is currently no official word as to how long Zuccarello will be out, but that could change by the time you are reading this as he is supposedly set to be checked out by Rangers’ team doctors sometime later today.
So there is a small chance Zuccarello is ready when the Rangers face the Chicago Blackhawks at home for their first game back after the Olympic break on Feb. 27. However, odds are Zuccarello will not play in that game or possibly more than a few games since even the smallest fractures take time to heal.
If this is the case and Zuccarello will miss some time with the Rangers — and hopefully by some time I mean a game or two — J.T. Miller will get the call-up from the AHL and once again have a chance to show off his skill in the NHL.
Miller, who has 10 goals and 16 assists in 24 AHL games this season, only has two goals and two assists in 25 regular season games earlier this season when he was with the Rangers before being sent down.
Miller definitely has skill, but he is still very raw. Before he can cement an NHL career with the Rangers or another team, he needs to find consistency and discipline with and without the puck; otherwise he will be a permanent minor leaguer. But since Miller is only 20 years of age, he still has plenty of time to make a name for himself with the Rangers, and if he doesn’t then I am sure the Rangers could get something good for him in return in a trade.
Miller is not likely to stay with the Rangers if and when Zuccarello comes back, even if Miller produces, just because there is just no room for him when everyone is healthy. Instead of a permanent stay in the NHL, this will be yet another chance for Miller to open eyes and earn the trust from the Rangers’ coaching staff for making the team out of training camp next season and staying up at the NHL level in the near future.