Rangers Come to Terms With 2011 First Rounder JT Miller

By Alexander Monaghan

Photo Credit: The Pipeline Show

Today, the New York Rangers agreed to terms with 2011 first round pick JT Miller.

Seen as somewhat of a reach at number 15, Miller was described by head of amateur scouting Gordie Clark as the most complete player available. Considering the Rangers watched most of the higher-ranked forwards become unavailable by selection number eight and that they needed a forward, selecting Miller made the most sense. Regardless, Clark and company seem pleased with the player they acquired and signed him faster than they inked their 2010 top selection, Dylan McIlrath, who was signed back on March  16th.

From Rangers Report Blog:

“there was no one (on the board) that had all the qualities that JT had. There could be someone who will score more goals, there could be somebody that’s going to be a faster skater, but if you want to put size with skating with character with grit with work ethic with playmaking ability and scoring ability, no one had all those qualities in their game. He had them all.”

Putting these quotes into perspective, it sounds like he will fit right in with the young, American blue collar players like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan.

While Miller compares his energetic style to the Pens’ Chris Kunitz, Clark said “he’s like a Dubi (Brandon Dubinsky), Mike Richards. Every shift he expends everything he’s got…He started coming up in a lot of the rankings from April because he was really one of the best players in the tournament in April. …He validated what we had seen all year.”

Although Miller has rotated in all forward positions with the USNTDP, Miller projects to either play center or left wing, although it should be noted he feels most comfortable on the left side.

Priot to the draft, Miller reached a verbal agreement to join the University of North Dakota. However, it seems he will begin the 2011-2012 campaign with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, forgoing his amateur status. Due to his change of program, Miller’s development likely becomes streamlined into the pros as he should be playing in the AHL in around two years.

Following the dramatic finish to the Dubinsky and Callahan signings, taking care of Miller — who will not count against the team’s 50 contracts while playing in the OHL — is an excellent housekeeping move. We all witnessed the Tim Erixon debacle and from a Calgary Flames’ fan perspective GM Glen Sather made an excellent decision in locking in their top selection sooner rather than later.

Here is the official press release from NewYorkRangers.com:

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with forward J.T. Miller.

Miller, 18, was selected by the Rangers with the 15th overall choice in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft on June 24. The East Palestine, Ohio native led Team USA in scoring with 13 points in six tournament contests en route to capturing the gold medal at the 2011 IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship in Germany. He tied for third among all tournament skaters in points, fourth in assists (nine), sixth in goals (four), and seventh with a plus-eight rating.

Miller was selected by tournament coaches as Team USA’s top player during the elite tournament after leading Team USA in points and assists, and finishing second on the team in goals and plus/minus rating.

J.T. Miller, who spent last season with the U.S. Under-18 team, will take part in the upcoming 2011 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp at Lake Placid, N.Y., where he will audition for the U.S. 2012 World Junior Championship team. Last season, Miller skated in 48 games with the U.S. National Under-18 Team (USHL), registering 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points, along with 80 penalty minutes. He established USHL career-highs in games played, assists, points, and penalty minutes, and ranked third on the team in points, and second in assists and penalty minutes.

Miller also established career-highs with two shorthanded goals and three game-winning goals, and notched a USA U-18 career best, two power play goals. His two shorthanded goals tied for the team lead, while his three game-winning goals tied for fourth on the club.

Internationally, Miller registered three goals and eight assists for 11 points in eight contests at the Four Nations Cup in Sundsvall, Sweden and the Five Nations Tournament in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. He notched two goals and three assists for five points in four games at the 2010 Four Nations Cup from November 10-14.

In addition, Miller tallied six points (one goal, five assists) in four games at the 2011 Five Nations Tournament from February 7-13. He led all tournament skaters with five assists, and ranked seventh in scoring with six points.

The 6-1, 200-pounder has appeared in 95 career games over two seasons with the U.S. National Development Team (USHL), registering 26 goals and 42 assists for 68 points, along with 159 penalty minutes.

In 2009-10, Miller established USHL career-highs in goals (15) and power play goals (four), and finished with 31 points while skating in 46 games with the U.S. National Under-17 Team (USHL). He also helped lead Team USA to a first-place finish at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ontario, tallying a team-high, five goals, and finishing second on the team in scoring with nine points during the tournament.

If you have any comments or questions, you can email the author at amonaghan at nhlhotstove period com. You can also follow him on Twitter – @NHLHotStove or @DailyFaceoff