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New York Rangers Face Tough Decision on J.T. Miller After Tonight’s Game

February 14th, 2013 at 2:22 PM
By PJ Foti

Tonight's game for the New York Rangers vs. the New York Islanders will be very important for more than just the fact that the team is looking for their fourth straight victory.

It will mark rookie J.T. Miller's fifth game with the team.

For those that are unaware of the NHL rules, NHL teams are allowed to call-up rookie skaters and play them for a maximum of five games without burning a year of eligibility on his entry-level contract. Once a player plays his sixth NHL contest, the fist year of his contract will be triggered.

That's why after tonight, the Rangers must decide whether they want to keep the 19-year-old Miller with the Rangers, or send him back to their AHL affiliate Connecticut Whale.

Whether it's a decision the Rangers are close to — or one they've made already — they aren't tipping their hand at what their plans are for the 2011 first-round draft pick.

“It’s something we’ll continue to talk about,” coach John Tortorella said after an optional practice Wednesday. “That’s all I can give you.”

In his NHL debut last Tuesday vs. the New Jersey Devils, Miller was arguably the best Rangers forward on the ice. In his next game — his first career game at Madison Square Garden — he dazzled the crowd with two goals, looking like he was a shoe-in to remain with the team.

His last game against Boston wasn't his best, but Tortorella thought he still had great awareness and position on the ice.

“He’s a 19-year-old kid, playing center-ice — a lot of reads down low, a lot of defensive responsibilities. He’s going to have some bumps,” Tortorella said. “I sill think he had some shifts where he was strong on the puck and did some good things there.”

Miller said he isn't going to approach tonight's game any differently, despite the implication it may have on his career. He said he has no control over whether or not the team keeps him in the NHL or not. Whatever happens, happens. He's prepared for both scenarios.

Tags: AHL, Connecticut Whale, Hockey, J.T. Miller, New York, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL

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