Chris Kreider will be lost to the New York Rangers for 3-4 weeks and his absence will surely be felt. Kreider has been a spark plug on offense offering speed and grit while pitching in to score goals as well. He is one of the most talented amongst this year’s rookie class and has had the impact the organization has been expecting of him for some time now.
But because of Kreider’s injury, another rookie will be given the opportunity to thrive in New York. JT Miller has been recalled and will play tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. He will be on a line with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello, while Martin St. Louis will play with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. Miller has shown success with Brassard before, as he played well filling in while Zuccarello was injured. Miller seemed to be a different player in that stint than he was at the start of the season.
Miller’s season has been a journey between AHL scorer and NHL fill-in. He has scored 12 goals and registered 25 assists for the Hartford Wolfpack in 32 games this season while only managing three goals and six points in 28 games with the Rangers. In his three games after the Olympic break, Miller registered one goal and two points while playing with Brassard. It makes sense to move St. Louis up to the Nash line in order to try and jump-start his production while putting Miller and Brassard together who have worked well in the past.
This season for Miller is not unlike the one that Kreider had last season. Both went up and down between New York and the minors, showing glimpses of their talent while also showing that they are not truly ready for full time duty at the top level. Kreider showed that he was ready this season, and Miller can do the same next year with several spots available on the team. With Kreider out for almost a month, he will most likely miss the Rangers’ final nine games. This will give the Rangers and Alain Vigneault an opportunity to see what Miller has learned this season and give him an inside edge going into training camp next year.