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Kreider sent to AHL then recalled

As the Rangers decided whether to keep rookie J.T. Miller with the team, and deal with the contract ramifications, they compared him to last year's playoff sensation Chris Kreider.

Ultimately, this year's hot rookie won out based on his play, allowing him to stay while the team demoted Kreider to Connecticut (AHL) for a day before recalling him Saturday.

"I don’t think (Kreider) did enough to get into the 20 here. It doesn’t mean he won’t at a point in time, but it’s a matter of going through the process," Tortorella said Saturday before the Rangers recalled Kreider. "This is all part of the process. I think Miller has done a little bit more, on the puck, getting to pucks, has made more of a difference. He stays, and Chris goes down and plays."

The Rangers had a five-game period to allow Miller to play without it affecting his contract. If he reached a sixth game, however, the first year on his entry-level deal would set off and the team would lose a year of control.

Miller played in that fifth game in Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Islanders, and it's looking like he will play that sixth game against Washington on Sunday. Tortorella said that Miller's contract situation had nothing to do with the decision to keep him with the team instead of demoting him to Connecticut. Miller has two goals in five games, both coming in one game against the Islanders.

"It's awesome. I'll obviously know more if I'm in the lineup tomorrow and playing," Miller said of being with the team for a likely sixth game. "As of now, I guess it seems to be like that. I'm trying not to worry about that anymore and go play."

After tearing up the playoffs last year, with five goals, Kreider just hasn't been able to find his groove this year. An ankle injury sidelined him for a few games, and when he has played, he hasn't shown those flashes he did during the playoffs. He has just one goal and one assist in seven games.

Friday, after being demoted, he played for the Connecticut Whale, and registered one shot on goal in a victory. His recall doesn't mean he's going to play Sunday and could just be insurance as forward Rick Nash missed practice Saturday for a maintenance day. The Rangers opted to originally send him to to Connecticut so he could be playing instead of just sitting on the bench as a healthy scratch with the Rangers,

"(Kreider) hasn’t played well enough to stay here right now," Tortorella said Saturday. "Again, that isn’t a criticism. It’s not a negative. It’s just where he is as a player right now."

RANGERS LAUNCH GO SKATE: The Rangers have launched "Go Skate!", a program designed to improve youth hockey accessibility in the area. The Rangers are hosting a free clinic on Saturday, free public skating on Sunday and Monday in New York and New Jersey, and their sixth annual youth hockey night Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The program expects to reach more than 15,000 youths, according to a press release.

"I think if you talk to anyone who has been lucky enough to pick up a stick in their life, as soon as you put a stick in their hand their hooked," said former Rangers forward Adam Graves, who is helping with the program. "I think by having our own weekend and taking the focus and putting it on the game and the game at the grass roots, for these young kids, it's something they look forward to."