Chris Rutsch / CT Whale
The New York Rangers can't take the ice, but some of their top prospects can. So is the NHL lockout helping J.T. Miller's development.
There are very few benefits of the NHL lockout for the New York Rangers. Really the only two positives you can take are 1) Marian Gaborik won't miss as many games when he returns from his injury; and 2) the Rangers' prospects get some extra seasoning in an AHL ramped up with NHL-level talent.
That's not really the case fo Chris Kreider. While it's a good thing that he's able to play high-level hockey, Kreider already proved he belongs in the NHL. He obviously can't play there right now, so the AHL is a great next step for him.
But for a prospect like J.T. Miller, the AHL was always going to be an option this year. There wasn't much of a chance for Miller to make the Rangers out of camp, so the AHL was his most likely destination. Even if he was given the Carl Hagelin/Ryan McDonagh treatment -- where he spent some time in the AHL before becoming an NHL mainstay -- he was still going to be playing in the AHL.
So how has the lockout helped Miller? Because other players who probably wouldn't be playing in the AHL this year are, which raises the talent level of the league significantly.
Miller, who has had an assist in his first two AHL games, has quickly turned into one of the Rangers' biggest prospects (especially after the graduation of Kreider -- who has had an assist in both games as well). Touted for his overall game, along with his polished skills, Miller was expected to make an impact for the Rangers sooner rather than later. And thanks to the improved talent in the AHL, we might see him get even more useful seasoning this year.
Obviously this can all change in a moment. If the NHL and the NHLPA find a way to make an agreement, then the influx of NHL talent in the AHL will obviously head back to the National Hockey League.
But that's not likely. At least, not so long as the two sides keep negotiating like children.
But let's not focus on the negatives. For now, the AHL does have NHL-level talent, and the Rangers should be thrilled that their prospects are getting the type of experience they're getting.
We'll obviously keep an eye on this as we go on, but for now, what are your thoughts?