The month of January sure was nice to New York Rangers prospect J.T. Miller.
The 19-year-old started the month by helping Team USA defeat Sweden for the gold medal at the world junior hockey championship on Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia. The month was capped by the young center being named to the AHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star squad.
Miller has recorded 17 points in 35 games at about a point per every other game pace. However, the youngster was on a team (three goals and three assists in seven games) prior to leaving for Russia.
Although Miller's January may not match that of Ken Morrow, who jumped straight from the Miracle on Ice team to the New York Islanders on the cusp of their Stanley Cup dynasty, Miller couldn't recall a greater month in terms of personal accomplishments.
“No, not really,” he said when the challenge was posed. “I guess it is kind of a big (month) for me."
The World Junior tournament, in which he logged two goals and a team-best seven assists for the Americans, was a storybook conclusion to a slight extension on Miller’s amateur career. But it was preceded by an altogether irreproachable start to his first full professional campaign, as mentioned before.
Aside from the stats, Miller is growing as a player. He made the transition from winger to center since arriving in the AHL and has improved his all-around game, something the organization should love.
“I have to learn how to play down low a little better,” he said. “Be more responsible down there and learn how to play defense before offense. I think when that goes well I can play a little better on the offensive end, too.”
Although his team-low minus-nine rating may not display how he's performed on defense, it's better he works out the kink in the minors, so when it is time for Miller to move to Broadway, he'll be ready to do what's asked of him. Miller feels what he's being asked to do in Connecticut, will have him prepared for when that time comes.Tags: 2011 NHL Entry Draft, AHL, Connecticut Whale, Hockey, J.T. Miller, New York, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL, Russia, Stanley Cup, Sweden, Team USA