K’Andre Miller pushing for more in third Rangers season

Okay’Andre Miller has been taking part in a job past his years within the NHL since his first season with the Rangers in 2020-21.

It’s straightforward to neglect the 22-year-old defenseman is coming into simply his third season within the league. Averaging roughly 20 minutes a sport over two seasons in a top-four spot with some penalty killing obligations isn’t all the time the norm for a participant of Miller’s age and expertise. But that’s all Miller has recognized.

The dialog surrounding the Rangers’ youth this season has largely been rooted within the want for sure gamers to enhance and step into greater roles. Miller’s function, nonetheless, is anticipated to be the identical. But the opportunity of the 6-foot-4, 217-pounder continuing on his upward trajectory can solely profit the Rangers.

“I could compete with any of those guys,” Miller advised The Post on Friday, citing the arrogance he gained from the Rangers’ run to the Eastern Conference Final, over which he averaged almost 25 minutes a sport. “All those forwards, all those top lines that [Jacob Trouba] and myself were paired up against. We had some good success against those guys and that was a fun experience overall.”

Okay’Andre Miller’s function gained’t change this season, however he plans to convey extra in his third professional go-round.
Robert Sabo

Miller, who took major strides on both sides of the puck final season, went house to Minnesota to coach within the offseason. After taking about two weeks off the ice, Miller labored out with Ryan Lindgren and Brady Skjei, a former Ranger and Minnesota native. Miller placed on 5 kilos, he stated, in specializing in his conditioning this summer season.

While he was happy along with his play towards the tip of final season and into the playoffs, Miller nonetheless described 2021-22 as “up and down.” He stated he centered on additional using his huge strides to his benefit throughout the offseason. His capability to go finish to finish as swiftly and assuredly as he can — evident when he danced round MacKenzie Weegar in a highlight-reel purpose on Nov. 8 — is a part of what makes Miller such a novel offensive drive.

But a significant a part of Miller’s leap final season stemmed from the sport coming in so much slower than it did throughout his rookie season.

“That was probably the biggest thing from the first year to the second year, just the speed of the game,” he stated. “Obviously, the first year you have a bunch of guys who are older, bigger and stronger than you. So I think it’s just about comparing yourself to them and putting yourself in that position and trying to do what you do that got you there.”

As a end result, Miller was additionally in a position to get extra comfy leaping up on the play on offense. His hope is to do extra of that, he stated, by tapping into his offensive instincts. He has already executed sufficient to be trusted as a top-four defenseman. Now, Miller can proceed engaged on rounding out his sport on the offensive finish, which has already seen some promising flashes.

Miller’s three-year entry-level deal shall be up on the finish of this season, which is able to probably put the cap-strapped Rangers in a troublesome scenario if he has a significant breakout yr. Even a repeat of final season would give Miller important leverage.

“He’s a bigger, stronger kid,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant stated. “We talked about [Alexis Lafreniere], [Filip Chytil] and people guys, they’re younger gamers. They performed very well final yr and you understand, let’s go to that subsequent step. They’re good, younger hockey gamers. What do you name the subsequent step? A star? A famous person? I don’t know.

“But [Miller’s] got a chance to be a hell of a hockey player. I think you guys all saw that last year.”

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