Despite the big win against the Winnipeg Jets last night, after the game head coach John Tortorella said that he was concerned regarding the progress of J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider.
Kreider was limited to a mere 3:23 of ice time in last night’s game, and did not skate past his sole shift on the ice in the second period. Miller had slightly more ice time at 7:08 in six shifts, but he too did not skate at all in the third period.
“I’m worried about them. I’m worried about Millsy,” Tortorella said. “You play so many close games [and] there are just too many mistakes … “
But Tortorella’s concern was not just directed at Miller.
“Quite honestly, I’m worried about the two kids,” he said. “Not that I’m upset with them. I just think the stakes are high, we play so many close games and I’ve just got to watch how they go through the game, do I trust them?”
“I’m kind of up in the air there, quite honestly,” Tortorella continued. “Because I don’t want to screw up their development, either. But stakes are too high right now, so we’ll see where we go with it.”
In my own opinion, if the decision is made to once again ship Kreider down to the Connecticut Whale, you can’t even begin to imagine what must be going through this young player’s mind. One of main reasons Tortorella sent him back to the Whale last time was to “find his game and confidence.” But how confident can he be if he is sent back down yet again? Kreider should have remained with the Whale for several months to develop his game and skill set. Giving him a few minutes a game, putting him in the press box, or sending him back and forth between leagues is doing him no favors. In fact, it might be damaging him more than anything else.
The Rangers organization needs to make their mind up what they want to do with Kreider, and stick to it. The stakes are very high, yes, but so are the stakes with Kreider’s development.
Both Kreider and Miller potentially have a lot to offer this team – and to an extend we’ve seen more already from Kreider vs. Miller – but we need to develop both of them as assets to the team the right way.
The other challenge for the Rangers is that if they do decide to send both back down – who replaces them? And this late in the season to make a run at the Stanley Cup? Newbury and Haley are both good fits but they may not be what this team needs to carry them deep into the postseason.