The 2011 draft is a little more than a month away, and we all know that Gordie Clark, Glen Sather, and the collection of Rangers scouts are holding many meetings to discuss potential players on their draft boards. The Rangers have the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft, and while most of the prospects on people’s lists will be gone (Nugent-Hopkins, Larsson, Courturier, etc), there are a good amount of prospects that would help the Rangers in the long run. Today we look at #16 in the ISS Top-30, J.T. Miller of US U-18 National Team. Miller is committed to the University of North Dakota, with teammate Rocco Grimaldi, starting next season.
The 6’1″, 190 lb forward out of Ohio finished up this season with a strong performance. Miller was instrumental in the US winning its third straight gold medal at the U-18 World Championships, leading the team in scoring with a whopping 13 points –including four goals– in just six tournament games, finishing with more than two points per game. His nine assists in the tournament, with the 13 assists in 21 non-tournament games, really illustrates how much of a play maker Miller is.
His passing and vision are phenomenal, and they are great compliments to his superb skating, shooting, and shear hockey knowledge. A strong two-way center, Miller is also very strong in the face-off circle, winning key draws in all situations, specifically on the power play and penalty kill. Miller is a great skater who uses his size to protect the puck, and has the tools to be very successful in the future.
What many scouts point to as his downfall is that he hasn’t produced the way people think he should. Outside of the U-18 tournament, where he was the leading scorer, Miller netted 15 points (3-12-15) in 21 games this year for the U-18 team. While that was still good enough for one of the top producers on the team (fourth), people expect more from someone with his skill set.
Miller appears to be a high risk, high reward type of player. He certainly has the tools, but his production is what is scaring many scouts. Just three goals in 21 games is a bit disappointing for someone like Miller, and it has scouts thinking that he may be no more than a bottom six forward. Tools and skills mean nothing if you can’t produce. That is going to be Miller’s biggest challenge as he develops with the Fighting Sioux. He will likely be a first round pick, but he will definitely be a project pick.