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Miller Believes He Is "Trending Upwards"

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

As weeks ago, J.T. Miller probably would have to rate this as one pretty darn good week.

On Wednesday the 23 year-old Miller agreed to terms on a new contract with the Rangers; and this weekend he will marry his fiancee, Natalie, before embarking on a honeymoon in Antigua.

"It's certainly one of the most important weeks in my life," Miller said on Thursday while visiting the Rangers Youth Hockey Camp at the MSG Training Center. "Especially going into the wedding and then the honeymoon next week, the contract is the last thing I wanted on my mind, so I'm really glad I got it taken care of."

Miller's recent good run is not just limited to this week, of course. He is coming off a breakout season in the NHL, one in which he appeared in all 82 games for the Rangers in 2015-16 and ranked tied for third on the team with a career-high 22 goals and tied for fifth with a career-best 43 points.

For a three-week stretch beginning in mid-January it can be argued that Miller was the Rangers best and most consistent player. In that ten-game run Miller scored nine goals and totaled ten points, while maintaining his strong work on the fore check and improved defensive play.

That success last season has fueled his confidence moving forward.

"I want to maintain consistency, both in season and from year to year," offered Miller, the team's first-round selection in the 2011 NHL Draft. "I want to keep trending upwards. I don't want it to be that I got a two-year deal and then take steps backwards. I'm hungry now for more success this year and moving forward."

Miller is already deep into training for the upcoming season; and he is excited about the Rangers' prospects in 2016-17.

"There are a lot of bright spots from last season and on our team," explained Miller. "There were times last year we were the best team in the league with largely this group. I'm excited to take another kick at the can this year."

He is also excited to take part in the World Cup of Hockey Tournament with the North American squad that is made of the league's young guns.

"It's not something I put much thought into when I first got the call last year because there were more important things going on at the time since we were into our season," said Miller. "I was very excited, but I pushed it to the side; but now I am really excited. I am really really looking forward to this tournament. It's going to be really special, essentially all of the best players in the world playing against each other, and I'' get the chance to play with the best players that came out of the draft classes behind me. It's really exciting for me."

Admittedly more mature than when he broke into the NHL at the age of 19, Miller feels indebted to the Rangers and, while the World Cup is a nice bonus, his main concern is that the Blueshirts get the best of J.T. Miller next season.

"They showed they have faith in me, and that automatically puts a little pressure on me; but at the same time I feel good and believe every year I'll get better and I'll continue to trend upwards."

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