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Kings prospect Miller continuing breakout season

Friday, 03.20.2015 / 2:12 PM / AHL Update

By Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

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Kings prospect Miller continuing breakout season
Los Angeles Kings prospect Colin Miller is continuing his breakout season with Manchester in the American Hockey League

Colin Miller hasn't yet finished his second season with the Manchester Monarchs, but he's already written himself into the American Hockey League history book.

During the AHL All-Star event in Utica, N.Y., the 22-year-old defenseman fired a 105.5 mph shot during the AHL All-Star Skills Competition, the hardest shot in the event's 20-year history.

"I had never done anything like that before so I was really kind of going into the whole thing blind and just trying to really not embarrass myself too much," Miller said. "I was happy when I hit the net and had a really good time at the entire event."

After being passed over in the 2011 NHL Draft, Miller was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round (No. 151) in the 2012 draft. He returned to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League for one final season in 2012-13.

He had 20 goals and 55 points in 55 games and earned the Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy, given to the OHL team captain who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice.

Los Angeles Kings prospect Colin Miller has enjoyed a breakout season with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs, scoring 16 goals and 43 points in 56 games played. (Photo: Fred Kfoury)

"He sees the ice really well, he makes good plays, [and] he's a good passer," Monarchs coach Mike Stothers said. "You can't help but notice how well he skates. He's very efficient at getting around the ice. He's kind of like a hovercraft. We thought we knew how quick he was, but we didn't realize until the All-Star Game when he did the fastest-skater event. That was amazing."

Miller completed his lap in at 13.805 seconds, becoming just the second AHL player to win the fastest-skater and hardest-shot events. The performance helped lead the Stothers-coached Eastern Conference All-Stars to a 15-11 skills-competition victory.

Now a month from the conclusion of the AHL regular season, Miller has up 16 goals and 43 points in 56 games, and his nine power-play goals are first on a Monarchs team that leads the AHL in power-play efficiency.

Stothers is in his first season as Manchester coach. While a coaching change often can throw off a player's established routine, Manchester leads the AHL with 84 points.

"[Stothers] has been great for our team," Miller said. "He's good at letting us know if we're not doing something right; he's very good. I have a lot of respect for him and I've liked him a lot this year."

Miller was called upon to carry much of the load while in the OHL, and Stothers recognizes that the surrounding core of players in Manchester this season has been helpful in letting Miller develop into the complete player the Kings will need him to be.

"I think the Kings' system of the team as opposed to the individuals has helped out," Stothers said. "He's another year older, more mature, and I think he's gotten a lot more comfortable with the league. There's an awful lot of upside to Colin's game. And I think right now we're just scratching the surface with him. I think there's a real potential to be a dominating player in the NHL."

The relationship between the Kings and Monarchs has been an integral part of the Kings' success, with future Stanley Cup winners Jonathan Quick, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Tanner Pearson, and Tyler Toffoli all developing in Manchester.

Miller hopes to keep that connection open.

"I think I had that big transition my first year, and then this year I've been a lot more confident with the puck and a lot more comfortable in situations that I maybe wasn't so comfortable with last year," Miller said.

That comfort with the level of hockey the AHL provides has shone through in Miller's game this season. His 43 points almost triples his offensive output from last season; he's second among AHL defenders in points, goals (16), and power-play goals (nine), and is fourth in power-play points (20). He has 11 multi-point games, including three in November.

Miller has been paired with NHL veteran Jeff Schultz for the majority of the season, and though their styles of play differ, Stothers and Miller agree the two feed well off of each other on the ice because they balance each other's game.

"When you're comfortable and confident in your pairing and partners, it makes a world of difference," Stothers said. "That's the beauty of the American Hockey League. Before you go up to the NHL you have to learn your craft here. “It's a process and it takes some time. Some guys find that comfort level like [Miller] has and they just take off. I think that's where his natural abilities kind of separate him from maybe some of the other players around the league."

Defensemen by nature usually need a little more time to develop into responsible, two-way players. For Miller, those tiny adjustments, whether in practice or between shifts of a game, are all part of the process.

"You're obviously trying to get better in every area and improve on things that maybe you didn't like the game before," he said. "I think all areas I'm trying to grow, and every day just get better."

For more news, scores, and stats from around the American Hockey League, follow @TheAHL on Twitter and visit theahl.com.


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