K’Andre Miller Makes Statement in NCAA Debut

With so many moving pieces at the forefront of the Rangers’ rebuild, perhaps 2018 22nd-overall pick K’Andre Miller became a forgotten man. He put himself at the forefront of the conversation with an incredible NCAA debut on Friday.

Miller, who attends Wisconsin, scored the opening goal on Friday against Boston College. He did a great job skating into space and then shooting around the screen.

Even aside from the goal, though, Miller was sublime. He put on a defensive clinic against Boston College and showed off his array of abilities. Here is one shift that shows multiple examples (watch for #19 in white).

Miller wins puck battles twice and finds teammates for outlets. Eventually, he gains control and makes a nice move to evade a forechecker and cleanly exit the zone. Here is another example of a similar play.

At 6’3 and 206 pounds, Miller is massive by NCAA (or any) standards. Though size can be overrated, it is incredibly advantageous when used properly, as Miller did.

Miller did something that Steve Valiquette harps on frequently. With a quick look over his shoulder, he sees a BC forward coming to the net front. Miller gets inside position and then use his frame to box out. Given the size advantage he does so quite easily, and as a result his goaltender is able to see the shot clearly.

This one is pretty straightforward. Though JD Dudek of BC wins the race, Miller uses his strength to effortlessly separate him from the puck while his teammate can come and retrieve.

Finally, here is one more good defensive play to diffuse a shot while protecting a lead in the final moments of the game.

Miller had as good of a college debut as anyone could have hoped. Simply looking like he belonged would have been sufficient, but Miller was the best player on the ice for either team. Wisconsin Head Coach Tony Granato realized that quickly and deployed Miller in every situation possible.

It is only one game, but it’s one game that shows why Miller’s ceiling is astronomically high. The goal is great, and he definitely will need to get on the scoresheet with some frequency; I didn’t watch his second game on Saturday, but he did generate a primary assist. The defensive play might be more impressive, though. Let’s remember that Miller was converted to defenseman only a few years ago, and so he is still learning the role. Should he continue to play like this, Miller will be a shoo-in for a key role on Team USA at the World Junior Championship.