K’Andre Miller’s sophomore season at Wisconsin has ended following a 2-1 overtime loss to Ohio State on Saturday in the Big Ten Quarterfinals. Wisconsin was defeated by the Buckeyes, 9-1, on Friday in the best-of-three series.
With the early elimination and a last-place finish in the Big Ten, Wisconsin has virtually no chance of making the NCAA Frozen Four tournament. For all intents and purposes, his season at Wisconsin is complete, and perhaps even his collegiate career.
In fact, it’s quite possible that K’Andre Miller’s next competitive hockey game could be at the pro level, and perhaps as soon as this season. After trading Brady Skjei at the deadline, General Manager Jeff Gorton justified the move with, among other reasons, the team’s upcoming youth on the left side. In terms of upside as well as readiness, it’s impossible to believe anyone besides Miler was at the forefront of that belief.
As for Miller, there are no guarantees that he doesn’t return to Wisconsin for his junior season in 2020-2021. However, in a recent conversation with The Athletic, Miller admitted that he mostly viewed his time at Wisconsin as a path to the Rangers and little else.
“They’re not easy classes so there’s a lot of work behind them. Managing that in the right way with hockey has been fun … I guess,” Miller says with a chuckle. “I struggle to stay motivated. I don’t know. I love hockey. It’s kind of bad to say but I feel like school is always second to hockey. It’s just getting by in school and doing whatever I need to do to make it (to New York).”
If the Rangers offer him the chance to turn pro, either right now or for the 2020-2021 season, and there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t, then it would be difficult to believe he’d instead head back to a struggling Wisconsin team.
After a breakout freshman season at Wisconsin, Miller followed it up with what was a lesser, but still good, sophomore campaign. Miller produced 18 points in 35 games this season after putting up 22 in 26 last season. However, it’s important to note that Wisconsin’s terrible season across the board likely suppressed his offensive output and that Wisconsin’s horrible goaltending likely impacted his priorities on the ice. Miller’s defensive game did take massive strides this season.
Miller is still extremely raw, so even if he does sign the Rangers may opt to send him to Hartford first, and that could even be true for next season. However, with the team’s issues on the left side of the defense and the low stakes for this season, as well as a desire to convince him to turn pro as soon as possible, the Rangers could opt to sign him and put him on the NHL roster this season.
It hasn’t even been a full day since Wisconsin’s loss. Miller and the Rangers may want some time to decompress and talk before making any decisions on whether he is turning pro, and if so, then when and where he will begin. But broadly speaking, it seems more likely than not that Miller’s pro hockey career is on the horizon.