The New York Rangers announced the have signed defenseman K’Andre Miller to a two-year deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $3.872 million. The towering, 6-foot-5 23-year-old posted 43 points in 79 games with the Rangers this past season, and on top of strong offensive output, was a steady defender away from the puck.
The Rangers entered the offseason with cap troubles of their own. After making a lot of low-cost acquisitions, they left the room to sign Miller and has approximately $2.3 million left to sign Alexis Lafreniere.
Miller was taken in the 2018 Draft, and since then has established himself as a top-four defender that any team would love to have. His giant frame complements his strong skating well, and he has excellent vision to pair with it. He makes great breakout passes, can pass or skate the puck up the ice in transition and, despite playing behind superstar Adam Fox, still manages to record great numbers.
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Though he only posted a single assist in the playoffs, the Rangers know that his value is a lot more than that and that his play in those seven games is not indicative of what they are paying for. Considering the year prior he recorded seven points in 20 games, he earned a mulligan this year. Especially for a 23-year-old who has already developed the way he has, this could end up being a bargain deal for the Rangers.
Miller is a Key Piece of New York’s Top-Four
The Rangers have some big names on their defense, including Fox and Jacob Trouba. Miller is establishing himself as one of those big names himself, and though some can argue that he is worth more than the contract is paying him, he is setting himself up for a big pay-day come the end of this deal. It also gives the Rangers a bit of flexibility in signing Lafreniere.
Miller and Trouba make up one of the largest pairs in the NHL, and teams hate playing against them with the chemistry the have developed. While Miller isn’t the physical force that Trouba is, he brings a much-needed balance to the pair. His offense counter-balances all of the big hits and shut-down play from his partner, but he is also quite reliable himself.
It is easy to look at Miller’s stats and figure he is mediocre defensively but that is not the case at all. It is harder to follow when a player is a great defender when they are producing as much as he is, but he truly is a perfect example of a two-way top-four defenseman. Miller finished the year 12th among all defensemen in 5-on-5 points. He is truly one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL.