First-round pick J.T. Miller, 18, has decided to
play for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League next season
rather than attend the University of North Dakota.
After Miller was first drafted it was reported that he’d
decided on UND, but Miller also made
his plans of turning pro in a year clear. The University of North Dakota has produced superstars Jonathan Toews
and Zach Parise in recent years, but attending college wouldn’t have put Miller
on the fast-track to the NHL that he desired.
Playing in the OHL means Miller will play a similar schedule to that of the NHL and should give him a better
chance to develop his offensive game, which right now is his greatest
weakness. Miller’s body, solid two-way
play, physicality and intangibles all seem to be there, but his consistency on
offense is an issue. Miller will be
joining a Plymouth
squad that will feature fellow first-round picks Stefan
Noesen and Rickard
Rakell and fell to the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL Western Conference
Semi-Finals in 2010-2011.
Miller’s decision has drawn mixed reviews. On the one hand, he is set on making it to the NHL as soon as possible and has chosen a path that could lead him there earlier than expected. On the other, Miller may have reneged on his word to go to North Dakota and as Jess Rubenstein believes, he may be misguided in the notion that he can turn pro next year.
If all goes perfectly for Miller, he could have an outside shot at joining the
Blueshirts next season. Like Christian
Thomas this season, Miller would be ineligible for the AHL, so his plan of
turning pro means he’ll be in New
York or he’ll be forced to play a second season in
Time will tell how Miller develops, but this is a stark
contrast to the slower development of fellow left wing prospect Chris Kreider who
is about to begin his third season of collegiate hockey. Kreider should have a strong chance to join
the Rangers next year, but Miller’s decision to pursue his NHL dream on fast
forward could create an interesting competition between the two down the road.
- New York signed Andreas
Thuresson to a one-year, two-way deal today. The 23-year-old right wing was acquired from Nashville for Brodie
Dupont on July 2. Thuresson has played
25 games in the NHL and will almost certainly begin the season with the CT
Whale, but he could be in the mix for an early call up if the Rangers face
injury woes again.
- The Rangers also locked up one of their three remaining
restricted free agents this afternoon, signing
Brian Boyle to a three-year, $5.1 million deal. Boyle was expected to get somewhere between
$1.5 million and $3 million, though most estimates had him between $1.5 million
and $2 million. An agent told The Boston Globe last week that he
expected Boyle to get $1.75 million and Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan to
get $4.25 million apiece.
Though Boyle has really only had one decent season in the
NHL, centers with his size and ability are extremely rare. It will be interesting to see how he handles the
added pressure and expectations next year, but his role might be very different
with the addition
of Brad Richards. Boyle figures to
be fourth on the center depth chart (unless Derek
Stepan is moved to left wing) which might reduce his ice-time and
opportunities. If Boyle becomes the
team’s fourth-line center, he will probably be the league’s best and it will be
important that Coach John Tortorella finds a way to roll all four lines because
Boyle is certainly deserving of significant minutes. The Rangers now have somewhere between $8
million and $11 million remaining to sign Dubinsky, Callahan and a depth
- Jess Rubenstein notes that Miller and Rangers' fifth-round pick Shane McColgan were invited to attend the 2011 USA
Hockey Under-20 National Junior Evaluation Camp.
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