Over the last several years, the New York Rangers have had remarkable success producing homegrown talent through their farm system. In fact, some of the most successful young Rangers rose through the ranks of Hartford with the AHL Connecticut Whale (formerly Hartford Wolf Pack): Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Ryan Callahan, Michael Sauer, Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi. Others such as Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, and Derek Stepan went straight to the Rangers.
Is JT Miller ready to make the jump into the NHL?
Miller, 19, skated in 61 games with the Plymouth Whalers of the (OHL) last season, registering 25 goals and 37 assists for 62 points, along with 61 penalty minutes. He ranked fifth on the team in goals, fourth in assists and tied for fourth in points. Miller recorded 15 multi-point performances, including three, three-point efforts and two, four-point efforts.
In addition, Miller registered 10 points (two goals, eight assists) and 18 penalty minutes in 13 playoff contests. He notched the series-clinching goal in overtime against the Guelph Storm in Game 6 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
His success continued internationally, as the Ohio born, Pennsylvania native represented the United States at the 2012 World Junior Championship. Miller registered four points (two goals, two assists) in six tournament contests.
Following his OHL season, Miller skated in eight playoff contests with the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League (AHL), tallying one assist and two penalty minutes. He made his professional debut on Apr. 21 at Bridgeport, and recorded his first professional point with an assist on May 2 at Norfolk.
Miller was drafted by the Rangers as the 15th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. On draft day Gordie Clark told Larry Brooks on the New York Post: ”Though it’s dangerous to compare an 18-year-old to established NHL players, he’s a Mike Richards-type player,” Clark said in regards to Miller’s play style.
“Every shift he expends everything he’s got. That doesn’t vary and he’s very underrated as a goal scorer”, Clark continued.
Miller has the tools and skill the Rangers have been drafting since the lockout, with good defensive awareness needed to play in the NHL. He is projected to be a checking-line caliber player at the NHL level. At 6′ 1″ 200lbs, Miller has the size to handle that role. There are some who now believe that Miller will eventually mature into a top-six forward in the NHL.
If Miller is able to impress Rangers head coach John Tortorella and company, he could be the next home grown Ranger to debut this year.