J.T. Miller had a fine first season in the Ontario Hockey League playing for the Plymouth Whalers. The 19-year-old put up 62 points in 61 games, tying him for the fourth-best total on the team.
Last season, Miller played for the United States National Development Team program in the United States Hockey League, putting up three goals and 12 assists in 21 games. However, it was in the World Junior Under-18 Championship where he saw his stock rise, leading the United States with 12 points in six games.
After that strong finish to the season, the Rangers drafted the Pennsylvania native with their first-round pick, 15th overall, in last year's draft.
Miller originally committed to play college hockey for NCAA powerhouse North Dakota, but following the Rangers' advice, decided to go the major junior route and joined Plymouth instead.
Miller embodies a lot of qualities and attributes the Rangers have shown to favor over the last few drafts. He possesses a good motor and defensive game, and while not possessing the flashiest skill set, has shown the ability to make plays in the offensive end.
From The Scouting Report's Rich Michalowski before the 2011 draft:
He’s not the most creative player on the ice but he does have the ability
to make the easy play. Miller’s passing and shooting abilities are at the very least solid
and consistent but he does show flashes at times of high end abilities in this regard.
Miller plays his end of the ice well and has a physical side that makes him difficult to
play against. The knock on Miller was that when you saw him play and admired his
skills, you wondered why he did not produce the numbers to match those skills. At
times, Miller’s decision making with the puck was cause to question his hockey sense
and offensive awareness.
With Miller having stated that he would like to turn pro after one more season shortly after he was drafted, barring an outstanding NHL training camp, he will most likely join the Rangers' American Hockey League affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, next season.
Miller joined the Whale after Plymouth's season ended, putting up one assist in eight playoff games while mainly playing in a checking role.
While he already projects to be a checking-line caliber player at the NHL level, Miller possesses the overall talent and potential to become a top-six player. It is a matter of if he can become more consistent, and if his decision-making catches up to his skill level.