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Miller jumps right in after leaving Ferris State

Thursday, 02.05.2009 / 10:21 AM / Prospects

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Most hockey players go months without seeing their families.

Adam Miller, though, is one of the lucky ones.

After a successful four-year run at Ferris State University, the 24-year-old center found himself with the Las Vegas Wranglers near the end of the 2007-08 regular season. He's been there ever since, just down the street from his father, sister and grandparents.

"It was either Idaho or Vegas, and it was my agent who really got me in here," Miller told NHL.com. "It's really nice to have my family here. I knew that Vegas always had a pretty good team, so I was pretty lucky. (My family) was pretty excited and shocked that I was going to be out here."

Miller's family has had the opportunity to watch the Livonia, Mich., native enjoy a tremendous rookie season. Forty games into the season, the center found himself tied with former NHL forward Chris Ferraro for the team lead with 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists). 

"With the talent we have here, it's just a lot of fun," Miller said. "I never thought I'd be where I'm at right now. Hopefully I can just keep it going."

Clearly, Miller has been able to build off the tremendous experience of helping the Wranglers reach the Kelly Cup Finals in 2008. After notching 8 points in nine regular-season games, Miller went 4-12-16 in 20 postseason contests.

"Coming from college, I played Sunday against Notre Dame and then came to Vegas Monday and we played Tuesday," Miller recalled. "It was pretty cool to just jump in. It felt like the season was over with, but then Vegas gave me a chance. It was awesome."

Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan has been thrilled with Miller's play and is certain last season's playoff run has been the catalyst for the tremendous start to his professional career.

"That was a real good experience for him," Gulutzan said. "He played real well on that run. I think now, though, he certainly needs to go through a season of playing 72 hockey games and trying to get better every day. But I think that run gave him some confidence. Hopefully he can build on it."

The biggest challenge for Miller has been adjusting to the rigors of a pro schedule. He never played more than 40 games at Ferris State; he eclipsed that Wednesday night at Victoria.

"The body's kind of wearing right now," Miller said. "You only play 40 games in college, and I think we've played 42 games already. It's fun, though. You play a lot of games, but it's very tiring."

Gulutzan is far from surprised about Miller experiencing such difficulty. It's the reality for any college player who is in the midst of his first professional season. However, the Wranglers' coach is pleased with the way Miller has handled it.

"Adam's in pretty good shape," said Gulutzan, who is in his sixth season behind the Vegas bench. "Like a lot of young guys, it's a mental schedule. The difference between college and pro is being mentally prepared for 72 games. I think that's the biggest thing for him. That's what these young guys have got to learn."

Miller is fortunate he gets to learn on a daily basis from the likes of Peter and Chris Ferraro, who both spent time in the NHL. Shawn Limpright, another forward, is in the midst of his seventh ECHL season.

"When I came here last year, Vegas was pretty much a veteran team," Miller said. "Everyone wants to play in Vegas when they're playing in this league. But the Ferraros really helped me out. Peter and I were roommates right off the bat. He gave me some good advice and to just have fun with the situation I'm in. Shawn Limpright really helped me out when I came in last year, too."

One can do worse when it comes to asking for a veteran presence to lean on. Ever since he arrived in Las Vegas, Gulutzan has prided himself on having quality veterans in his locker room. This season is no different.
"I knew that Vegas always had a pretty good team, so I was pretty lucky. (My family) was pretty excited and shocked that I was going to be out here." -- Adam Miller
"Like on any team, leadership's important," Gulutzan said. "I think that having those guys, they've been through the grind. You can talk to guys and see how they prepare to play, and that's what you kind of have to do as a young guy."

So far, Miller has done everything that has been asked of him. Because of that, combined with his solid numbers, he could be on the fast track to the American Hockey League.

"There's been some interest here from a few (AHL) teams," Gulutzan said. "I think one of the biggest things for him is to make sure his defensive game is in order every night. I think certainly he'll get a chance. He's a guy that has to continue to work on his game, but he certainly has some attributes to get him to the next level."

When that day comes, Miller's family will have to travel if they want to watch him play. It's a safe assumption that won't be an issue.

"Everybody in this league, that's their main goal," Miller said of a crack at the Triple-A level. "I want to move up to the AHL. Hopefully something comes along pretty soon here."
       
Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.


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