2011 NHL Draft: Why The Selection Of J.T. Miller Was A Good One

For the second year in a row Gordie Clark and company stepped to the podium and called a name no one expected. And for the second year in a row a collective "what!?" flew from the throats of Rangers supporters.

But while you might not be as familiar with the name, from my very preliminary research, this was an awesome pick. Does Miller have the kind of goal scoring ceiling that Joel Armia has? No. But Miller plays a complete game, compared to Mike RIchards by Clark,  and will be a tremendous asset for the Rangers in the future.

Clark has already said J.T. Miller has an underrated shot, and that he was overshadowed (not enhanced) offensivley by Rocco Grimaldi. Through Clark's analysis, Miller has a very good shot, his finishing is one of his best assets and his playmaking ability is top-flight (he had nine assists in six U-18 games for the USA). He's a good skater, something that just enhances the type of player he can become. And finally his character and leadership are top-flight, probably some of the best in the draft. Those are guys you want on your team, Miller is one of those guys.

Now, I'm not saying he's the best in all those categories. There are players with higher ceilings on almost every aspect Miller brings to the table. But not one of them is as talented all around as Miller is (including toughness, nasty streak and the ability to fight).

More after the jump.

The Rangers are building something.

And while you will see some scouts telling you he would be more suited in a defensive specialist role, he admittedly had an off year in production this season. Imagine where he would have been if his production (the rest of his game rounded out well) was where he wanted it to be. Also realize that on an "off year" he lead the USA in point (13 in six games) at the World U-18's and put up respectable number (but still bad one's by his standards) in the USHL.

Here are two scouting reports on him from My NHL Draft:

A player who was unable to put everything together this season, Miller is a big center with two-way capabilities. An agile skater with good acceleration, and an athletic build, Miller demonstrates a lot of things to like. A good passer, with solid puck handling skills, Miller can also finish plays with a strong shot. He's something of a reclamation project, but could pay high dividends down the road.
Submitted by: Brian Huddle of LeafsProspects.com

Jonathan MIller: watched him alot since he was 15 since his days with Pittsbhurg Hornets- Midwest Elite League.. Excels in avery area of the game. Has great tenacity and work ethic, Great passer,speed ,shot and hits. Only negative is that he has bulked up alot in upper body. The trend in the NHL is the opposite. Take a look at Samkos.

Submitted by: Edward Rossman

From 2011 Bruins Draft Watch (I bolded the key notes on Miller):

J.T. Miller, C USA- One of the bigger disappointments this season for the U.S. NTDP because his production never seemed to be commensurate with his excellent physical tools, Miller finally broke through with the kind of dominant, consistent scoring performance scouts have been waiting for. The 6-1 center from Ohio scored four goals (and some big ones at that) and was a consistent passer and playmaker. The top line of Miller, Boucher and Grimaldi gave other teams fits throughout the tourney and Miller was often the one who found himself with the time and space to make things happen with. To his credit, he did. It helped to have a linemate in Boucher who was shooting the lights out in critical situations, but Miller looked and played like a solid first-round pick. Someone who liked his tools but was concerned with the lack of production just might have seen enough to grab him top-20. Even if he slips out of that bracket, we can't imagine he'd miss on the opening 30 picks. Too much talent and upside there.

And from The Scouting Report (where he was ranked 20th):

The skill set to be reliable 2 way forward has always been there as prior to this year, Miller has been at worst a strong skating centerman who plays hard on both sides of the puck. He always possessed the puck skills necessary to contribute offensively but lacked that consistency leading to questions about his hockey sense. Miller seems to have answered those as the year progressed culminating in an excellent showing at the U18’s. There are some rumblings that the North Dakota recruit will opt for Plymouth in the OHL.
The Rangers got a kid who has the potential (and all the tools) to be a dominant force for them for years to come. At worst, Miller allows them to be tougher to play against physically and defensively. At best, he is a player who does all the defensive and gritty work while adding a plethora of goals and assists.

Remember, Clark has been doing this way longer than we have. Clark knows what he is doing. There is a reason the Rangers are doing what they are doing. Miller fits the young, fast and tough bill. He also fits the offensive bill. Just give it time, look at his videos online, look at what people are saying about him, and you'll see the Rangers did good here.

Really, really good.