When it comes to trade talk and the Oilers, things keep coming up NY Rangers. We’ve discussed Cam Talbot, Sather the jackal and today we reach the case of JT Miller. Seems he’s been a prospect forever but Miller’s skill set may be a nice fit for the Chiarelli/McLellan Oilers. He’s fast—Edmonton has a need for speed after spending parts of the season with entire forward lines best described as tortoise—tortoise—tortoise—and fits the Chiarelli description of a player who can be hard on the puck. Let’s have a look at JT Miller.
MILLER THREE YEAR BOXCARS
He was a part-time player for two seasons and then this year saw Miller see more action. Interesting to see those EV points, that bodes well for the role he would likely play in Edmonton (3L, the role Matt Fraser filled after David Perron was dealt).
MILLER THREE YEAR FANCY
Miller moved up the depth chart this season and played well in what looks like a pretty nice role for a young winger trying to make the grade (he can also play center). He formed a solid line with (mostly) Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes in 2014-15 and he is an RFA this summer. Miller had a 2014-15 salary of $833,000 and a cap hit of $1.419M with bonuses. He won’t be expensive next season, and of course that makes him valuable to the Rangers and Glen Sather.
SCOUTING REPORT (THE HOCKEY NEWS)
- Assets: A wealth of speed and offensive acumen, the versatility to play center or wing, as well as the size and grit to play a power-forward’s game. Source
Miller is 22 and has endured the ups and downs of pro hockey in the last three years. An example is this comment from his coach in April of 2014:
- Alain Vigneault: “There needs to be more commitment from his part on the ice and off the ice and, until there is, he hasn’t earned the right to be at this level on a regular basis. That’s part of any young player going through the process of being an NHL player. You’ve got to figure it out and hopefully he will. And when he does, we’ll have a good player. If he doesn’t figure it out, then he’ll be a good minor leaguer.” Source
WHAT ROLE WOULD HE PLAY IN EDMONTON?
The THN summary above is a fair reflection of his game, although for me his size (6.01, 205) and skill (as above) suggests we’re looking at a checker with 15-goal ability (and his junior career would back up that assessment). No crime there, that’s a good player and the Oilers need speed in the worst possible way. I look at Miller as 3L behind Hall and Pouliot, someone who can play alongside Anton Lander and Teddy Purcell or Nail Yakupov for this season and maybe help Leon out too should he make the grade.
Down the line, he might grow into that valuable “Pisani” two-way role the Oilers have been giving to wobbly possession gents (Ryan Jones, Lennart Petrell) these last years in an effort to get a bat into the lineup. It looks from here as though Miller has the offensive ability to score 15 a year, can help you in a two-way role (and I do understand he’s young) and maybe he can help cycle the puck many miles from the Oilers’ net.
I think Miller makes loads of sense in that role, plus he can move in to the C spot. If Leon is ready, perhaps the Oilers look at running Lander on the 4line with Hendricks and Gordon (until the deadline). The fantastic thing about Miller is he has enough natural ability to play with skill, he’s a fast train, can play center and you’re not going to kill yourself on the contract.
WHAT IS THIS GOING TO COST?
As I mentioned in the Talbot piece (here) there are several things to consider when dealing with the New York Rangers:
- Sather is a jackal; he wins trades because he appears indifferent about the outcome of the negotiation.
- Oilers like other Rangers like Cam Talbot
- Rangers are looking for depth and have expensive free agents like Martin St. Louis leaving
- Rangers cap issues mean they’re going to try to dump Klein or Boyle.
- Rangers don’t pick until late round 2 in 2015 and have the same situation in 2016. They need picks, both years.
When it comes to dealing with Slats, there are traplines set and enough disappearing floors and walls closing in to cover off a dozen Hardy Boys books. ALL of the people you don’t want to see dealt? That’s his starting point. To my knowledge, Peter Chiarelli traded with Sather only once, acquiring Aaron Ward for Paul Mara in early 2007.
It just feels like these two teams match up so well this summer, it’s reasonable to expect they’re talking and something could happen. Hold on to your hats!