GREENBURGH, N.Y. — J.T. Miller can cross one thing off his summer to-do list.
The 23-year-old restricted free agent agreed to a two-year, $5.5-million contract this week, avoiding an arbitration hearing.
“I couldn’t be happier that the deal was done and what the deal was and I’m really excited for the future,” Miller said Thursday at the team’s training facility in Westchester.
“It was my first negotiation-type thing, so it’s different. I tried not to stay stressed, I got a lot going on right now in life,” added Miller, who is getting married next week and will then begin preparations for September’s World Cup of Hockey. “Especially going into [the wedding], and the honeymoon the next week, it was the last thing I wanted on my mind.”
Miller’s deal could be viewed as a “bridge contract,” which means short-term savings for the team but also leaves open the possibility of the player breaking out and thus becoming more expensive upon hitting the open market.
“From an organizational standpoint and a numbers standpoint, we all kind of agreed it made more sense,” Miller said.
Miller tied for third on the team in goals (22) and was tied for fifth in points (43) last season, despite ranking 11th among the team’s skaters in total time on the ice. The Rangers also controlled the puck better with Miller on the ice, taking 49.2 percent of all even-strength shot attempts while he was playing, compared to 46.5 percent when he was off the ice. This 2.7-percent difference was sixth-best on the team.
Miller will take these talents to Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey in Canada. He said that after his honeymoon his next step this summer will be preparing for the tournament. “I’m really, really looking forward to this tournament. It’s a special opportunity.”
As for the upcoming Rangers season, Miller said, “I’m looking forward to the fact that we have a lot of the same faces coming back . . . .I’m definitely ready to improve my game.
“I want to keep trending upward,” he added. “I [don’t want] to take a step back this year and wait until my contract year. I’m hungry now.”