It’s been an incredible month for J.T. Miller.
In January, he helped lead Team USA to gold at the World Juniors, where he was also tied for the team’s scoring lead. That same month he was named to the American Hockey League All-Star Game. Earlier this week he was called up to the New York Rangers, the team that selected him 15th overall in 2011. He made his NHL debut exactly one month after Team USA won its gold medal and Thursday night, he scored his first two NHL goals.
These weren’t just cheap goals either. Here’s a look at both.
If you’re going to score your first career goal, might as well make it an unassisted snipe job. The second was another terrific read by Miller to find the open ice allowing Ryan McDonagh to hit him with an exceptional stretch pass. He looked like a veteran out there playing on a line with fellow Americans Chris Kreider and Ryan Callahan.
It hasn’t been all great for Miller this month. A few weeks after returning from the World Juniors, his great-grandfather died. Miller was very close to him. So much so that the 19-year-old center placed his gold medal from the WJC in the casket with his great-grandfather, who was buried with it.
“I actually put the medal in the coffin with my great grandfather,” Miller told NHL.com’s Mike Morreale. “Not many can say they had a special relationship with a great grandparent, but that was something very special to me.”
That’s a pretty incredible tribute.
Miller has looked good in his first two NHL games and even coach John Tortorella has said Miller might take somebody’s job before the year is up.
The way he’s handled this whirlwind month is showing he appears to have the maturity to be able to handle becoming a full-time NHLer. Time will tell if he sticks with the big club, but he’ll never forget Feb. 7, 2013.