Last night, the Rangers surprised a lot of people when they selected J.T. Miller of the US NDTP. With players like Mark McNeill, Joel Armia, and Tyler Biggs available, most people assumed the Rangers would select one of that trio. However, they went “off the board” a bit when they selected Miller. The initial reaction on Twitter was a combination of controlled outrage and shock, which turned into a general trusting of Gordie Clark and his great staff that have rebuilt this farm system.
I wrote a draft preview on Miller, which you can read here. This actually marks the first time I have actually written a preview for a player that was actually picked. I don’t want to re-hash everything there, but Miller carried the U-18 US Team to gold at the World Championships, netting a whopping 13 points (four goals), and leading the team in scoring. Miller was dishing the puck to Rocco Grimaldi most of the time, but Clark was quoted saying that if Miller wasn’t dishing the puck to Grimaldi, he would be able to finish just as easily.
For the past two drafts, many fans have been relatively shocked with who the Rangers have selected in the first round. This was the third year in a row where most fans had to Google who they drafted just to read up on him. Miller is a beast of a player, who knows how to get in the dirty areas. He is also a solid two way center who is great on face offs. He was clearly someone the Rangers coveted heading into the first round.
If it were my choice, I likely would have gone with McNeill (#18 overall) or Armia (#16 overall). But then again, that’s why I don’t work in the business, and I write a blog. We have trusted Gordie Clark for this long. Have faith. Just because it isn’t what you would have done, doesn’t make it a bad pick. Miller will hopefully continue to develop.