Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Miller, Powe set to make Rangers debut
By Katie Strang
Two new arrivals -- top prospect J.T. Miller and recently-acquired Darroll Powe -- are set to make their debut for the Rangers, and they'll be thrown right into the fire in the midst of a bitter rivalry game against the New Jersey Devils.
Miller, who was recalled Monday, will be playing his first NHL game Tuesday after spending this season with the AHL's Connecticut Whale. His parents, grandparents, brother and girlfriend will all be on hand to mark the momentous occasion.
"Just excited right now. I'm just kind of anxious. I just want to play," Miller said. "I've been looking forward to this since I was a little kid so, I'll just go out there and try to get in the game as soon as possible. I think that will help me the most."
The former first-round draft pick (15th overall, 2011) has eight goals and 12 assists in 37 games for the Whale this season and earned the nod after steadily improving his game down in the AHL. Miller also helped lead the U.S. team to a gold medal in the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships, an experience he feels will help prepare him for the biggest stage of all.
"That game was something we looked forward to for a long time, with all your buddies. I think that's a different thing, but obviously, the biggest stage is right now," Miller said. "I'm gonna prepare myself for the game and treat it, maybe, like the gold medal game with the excitement there."
The 19-year-old Miller, who is regarded as one of the most promising young talents within the organization, has five games to impress the coaching staff. Because of his age, he is subject to the five-game threshold that many junior players face while up with the big club. The Rangers must make a decision on whether to keep him after five games or send him back to the AHL to avoid burning the first level of his entry-level contract.
Powe has plenty of NHL games under his belt -- 294 over the last four-plus seasons -- but he'll be playing his first as a New York Rangers. The 27-year-old forward was acquired Monday in a trade that sent veteran Mike Rupp to Minnesota in exchange for Powe and forward Nick Palmieri.
"Initially, it was a little bit of a surprise, but when I heard I was coming to the Rangers, obviously it's a great organization and a great team and I'm excited to be here," he said.
Powe is expected to fill a key role on the team's penalty-killing unit; he led all Minnesota forwards in shorthanded minutes last season and finished second in the league with 91 blocked shots. With his ability to play both wing and center, Powe also provides some versatility to the Rangers lineup.
"Powe is a guy that can kill penalties, he's been in the league, does a lot of little things along the boards, and certainly adds to our depth in a lot of situations. I can move guys around," coach John Tortorella said. "So, we're happy to have him."