J.T. Miller has been a top prospect since he was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 NHL draft by the New York Rangers. Now an alternate captain for the American world junior team, his performance is turning heads and making him a viable candidate to start the season with the Rangers.
Miller has scored two goals and added four assists in five games for the American team, including two assists in the must-win game against Slovakia.
This is right in line with his performance in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale. In 26 games, Miller has five goals and nine assists.
Miller is only 19, so he still has room to grow. He stepped up for the Americans when they needed it most, playing his best hockey in the most important games. Add in the fact that he's contributing nicely in the AHL, and it all bodes well for his future with the Rangers.
Miller projects as a two-way power forward who can excel on faceoffs and in his own zone. He'll score a bunch of goals, dig in the corners and make smart passes. He's not a flashy player, but he gets the job done.
The Rangers are without long-term solutions at third- and fourth-line center. Miller could easily step in and anchor one of those lines. He has proven defensive capability and could play on the penalty kill relatively soon.
He is only 19, so he will come up with growing pains. But he's established his talent on the professional level and showed his leadership skills on the junior level.
It's time for Miller to play with the big club once the lockout is resolved. And that's great news for the Rangers, because they can get one of their best prospects up in their system sooner rather than later and also fill a hole in the bottom six.