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K’Andre Miller is a very raw prospect. A forward for most of his life, he only began playing defence in 2015-16. Despite that, he would make the US National Team Development Program just one year later. Miller really struggled when he first started with the Under-17 team, but has made great strides over the last two seasons.
Miller put up just 17 points in 54 games with the U-17 program last year, and also had some issues in his own end of the ice. He’s shown improvement at both ends of the ice this season, with seven goals and 24 points in 50 games. His defensive game is also vastly improved. With this quick learning curve, many analysts are now questioning exactly how high his ceiling can be.
Miller and the US NTDP will be playing in the IIHF Under-18 World Championships starting this week. They will look to defend the gold medal won last year.
Miller is committed to attend the University of Wisconsin next season.
K’Andre Miller Scouting Report
Defense — shoots Left
Born January 21st, 2000 — Hopkins, Minnesota
Height 6’3″ — Weight 206 lbs [191 cm / 93 kg]
Miller is an outstanding skater. His stride seems almost effortless but generates very good speed in both directions. He can rush the puck up the ice, or pinch at the blue line and still get back defensively. Miller has very good acceleration as he reaches that top speed very quickly. His edgework, pivots, and agility are top notch. Miller changes direction effortlessly. He also can make quick cuts, as well as transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Miller has a strong lower body. He is tough to knock off the puck. His balance and power are also effective in winning battles on the boards, and in clearing the front of the net.
Miller’s skating ability is combined with good puck handling skills. It is easy to see why he was a forward for so long. He can skate the puck out of danger, and start the transition game by leading the rush. He also makes a good first pass to start the transition game. If there is a criticism it is that Miller plays a game that is almost too conservative at this point. He picks his spots for when to get involved in the offence but seems to wait for a near perfect opportunity. There are times he could push the play more and does not. However, this is an area that has really improved.
Miller’s passing skills translate to playing at the point in the offensive zone. He has the vision and playmaking ability to set up teammates. Miller creates passing and shooting lanes with his quick feet and good agility. Miller’s shot is accurate and he has a good release on his wrist shot but lacks the power in his slap shot to be a big-time scorer from the point. He is more of a quarterback at the point than a trigger man.
K’Andre Miller is aggressive and physical in his own end of the ice. His skating allows him to maintain good gap control on the rush, and take his man out in one-on-one situations. When playing down low, there are still some issues with his positioning and instincts, but these continue to get better. The skills are there, but he will need to continue to refine his game.
Projection and Comparison
Miller is a bit of a project, but one with high upside. Expect for him to spend at least two years at the NCAA level, and perhaps a year in the AHL after that. With good coaching he can be a highly effective defenceman at both ends of the ice. As mentioned, putting a ceiling on him is difficult, as he is still learning the position and has come so far, in such a short time. The tools are there, and it will be up to his coaches to refine them. Miller’s style is reminiscent of Morgan Rielly, but this is a style comparison only, and not one based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Miller that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
PLYMOUTH, MI – FEBRUARY 16: K’Andre Miller #19 of the USA Nationals skates up ice with the puck against the Russian Nationals during the 2018 Under-18 Five Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on February 16, 2018, in Plymouth, Michigan. USA defeated Russia 5-4. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)