K’Andre Miller has played a role beyond his years in the NHL since his first season with the Rangers in 2020-21.
It’s easy to forget that the 22-year-old defender is only entering his third season in the league. Calculating an average of about 20 minutes per game over two seasons at a top four position with some penalty shootout responsibilities isn’t always the norm for a player of Miller’s age and experience. But that’s all Miller knew.
The conversation about the Rangers youth this season has been largely rooted in a need for some players to improve and take on bigger roles. However, Miller’s role is expected to be the same. But the probability of a 6-foot-4 and 217-pounder It continues its upward trajectory It can only benefit Rangers.
“I could compete with any of these guys,” Miller told The Post on Friday, citing the confidence he gained from Rangers’ run to the Eastern Conference Final, during which he spent nearly 25 minutes in the game. “All those attackers, all those top lines [Jacob Trouba] I am having. We had some good success against these guys and that was an enjoyable experience overall.”
Miller, from Take big steps on both sides of the disc Last season, he returned to Minnesota for off-season training. After taking about two weeks off the ice, Miller worked with Ryan Lindgren and Brady Skjee, a former Ranger and Minnesota native. He said Miller weighed more than five pounds in focusing on his conditioning this summer.
While he was happy with his play at the end of last season and in the playoffs, Miller still describes 2021-22 as “ups and downs.” He said he was focused on further capitalizing on his massive strides in his favour during the off-season. His ability to go from end to end as quickly and skillfully as he can – as evidenced when he danced around MacKenzie and got jealous at a signature reel goal on November 8 – is part of what makes Miller such a unique offensive force.
But a large part of Miller’s jump last season stemmed from the fact that the game was much slower than during the junior season.
“That was probably the biggest thing from year one to year two, just the speed of the game,” he said. “Obviously, in the first year you have a bunch of guys that are bigger than you and bigger and stronger than you. So I think it’s just about comparing yourself to them and putting yourself in that situation and trying to do what you’re doing that got you there.”
As a result, Miller was also able to feel more comfortable jumping into play when attacking. He said he hopes to do more of that by tapping into his offensive instincts. He’s already done enough To be trusted as a man of defense among the top four. Now, Miller can continue working on finishing his game on the offensive end, which has already seen some promising flashes.
Miller’s three-year entry-level deal will expire at the end of this season, which will likely put the tight-knit Rangers in trouble if he has a major breakout year. Even a repeat of last season would give Miller significant leverage.
“He’s a bigger, stronger kid,” said Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “We talked about [Alexis Lafreniere]And the [Filip Chytil] And these guys, they are young players. They played really well last year, let’s move on to the next step. They are good hockey players. What do you call the next step? a star? a star? I don’t know.
“But [Miller’s] He got a chance to be a hell hockey player. I think you all saw that last year.”