Heading into the 2011 NHL draft, it was clear that the New York Rangers would be targetting a forward. WIth a stud goaltender and a solid core of defensemen, the Blueshirts needed a skilled player up front. Luckily for them, that desire came true, as they selected center Jonathan Miller with the No. 15 pick in the draft.
In the hours leading up to the draft, there were rumblings that the Rangers would actively seek to trade down in the draft if they weren't sold on a particular player. It wasn't a draft too top heavy with difference makers, according to many scouts and analysts.
But director of player personnel Gordie Clark and the rest of the Blueshirts' scouting department must have been sold on Miller, an 18-year-old from the United States National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League, who had 13 points at the World Championships, though 37 (with 26 assists) during the regular season.
The 6-foot-1, 198 pound center is committed to the University of North Dakota for next season, and is a two-way player with a very unrefined offensive game.
ESPN.com's NHL Draft guru Gare Joseph had this to say about Miller:
Intensity and determination to go along with a solid base of skating and skill makes Miller exciting to watch. At international tournaments, he showed he can produce among his peers and although there is upside to his offensive game, he is an attractive forechecking forward who will add secondary scoring.
Clark compares Miller to some familiar names: "like a Dubi, or Mike Richards. He plays every shift, expends everything he's got." He is also a believer in his scoring ability and said the team had options to move down if Miller was not there at 15. Some names others have also thrown around is Ryan Kesler, Chris Drury.
Center definitely targets a position of need for this team and fits into what this era of Rangers is selling -- max-effort, two-way hockey. He'll definitely need several years of development and it wouldn't be a shocker to see him go to school for a few years, though the Rangers will probably make a push to get him in their minor leagues.