The New York Rangers took a step forward towards gaining some size and skill on the left wing when they selected J.T. Miller 15th overall Friday at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota.
The 18-year-old East Palestine, OH. native finished with 11 goals and 26 assists in 46 games this past season with the the U.S. Under-18 team, and led all U.S. players with 13 points at the U-18 World Championships. He will play next season at the University of North Dakota.
“I’m a pretty competitive kid,” Miller said. “I always want to compete and I’m pretty hard to play against, so I think that’s my best attribute.”
The Rangers passed on right wingers Joel Armia and Tyler Biggs, both of whom the organization was rumored to be interested in. But in the end, Gordie Clark and company got the guy they wanted.
Miller is a big body who can put some pucks in the net. At 6 foot 1 inch and 200 pounds and still growing, Miller is the big winger the Rangers have lacked for several years. The organization is filled with talented wingers, but most who lack size, including Ryan Callahan and prospect Christian Thomas.
Miller said he knows there are flaws in his game he has to work on before he makes a legitimate chance at making the big club.
“I have to get a little stronger and faster and be able to play with some men out there,” Miller said. “I have to work out in the offseason and play this next year in North Dakota and see what happens there.”
Though born in Ohio, Miller grew up in Pittsburgh, and said his favorite team is the Penguins. He said he’s only been to the Big Apple once in his life.
Miller seems confident in his abilities, and hopes to someday be the guy the organization looks to in the big spot to produce.
“I’d like to be a top guy that can be relied on to produce,” he said. “I’ll be a guy that works hard just like they do. I’m excited to play there. It will be a great experience for me.
“It’s going to be hopefully great playing there. I’ve got a lot of family coming in hopefully one day.”