Tampa Bay Lightning F J.T. Miller is the unsung hero of the McDonagh trade

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30: J.T. Miller
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30: J.T. Miller /

Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller has been the unspoken hero of the trade that brought over Ryan McDonagh from the New York Rangers.

The trade that brought J.T. Miller to the Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t known as the Miller trade.  The centerpiece of the deal was undoubtedly former New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh.

When the details of the trade first came out, it appeared that swapping Vladislav Namestnikov and Miller would be basically one-for-one.  Some even believed that in the forward portion of the deal, the Lightning would be slightly worse off.

Since the trade, however, Miller has averaged just over a point per game in the 15 games he’s played with the Lightning.  His 16 points include 9 goals, three of which came in a hat trick against the Ottawa Senators on March 13th, and 7 assists.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

While it can be argued that this increase in production comes from the elite linemates he has in Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, his production goes beyond the already impressive numbers he has posted.

Since Miller has arrived in Tampa, he has averaged about 17 minutes of ice time, which ranks within the top ten of Lightning skaters.  In addition to this, he has also seen time on both special teams.  His biggest contribution has come on the power play, where he is normally on the first line.

Where the Lightning benefit most from Miller’s presence, however, is in his playstyle.  For a team that is deep with fine shooting and technical play, a speedy grinder is absolutely welcome.  He has proven to be a swiss army knife player that isn’t afraid of hitting.

When the playoffs come around, players like that are more valuable than ever.  When they have offensive capabilities like Miller does, suddenly they become a factor that can change the result of a series.

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While he wasn’t the name that caught headlines at the NHL Trade Deadline, he has had an undeniable impact on the Lightning.  He has fit into what the Lightning have had going all year like a puzzle piece and shows no sign of slowing down.  We’ll get our first look at his play in a playoff setting with the Bolts very soon, and personally, I don’t think we’ll be disappointed.