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Miller keeps climbing hockey ladder, succeeding

by Adam Kimelman

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- J.T. Miller has been a man on the move the last three seasons. Three different teams at three different levels of hockey, and about the only thing in common has been a high level of success for the New York Rangers prospect.

After scoring 50 points in 56 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2010-11, Miller was selected by the Rangers with the 15th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft. He spent last season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, where he finished fourth on the team with 25 goals and 62 points.

He's also grown to 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, which has better equipped him to climb another rung on the hockey ladder -- to the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League. In 26 games, Miller is fourth on the team with 14 points. Not bad for a 19-year-old in the AHL, where most of the first-year players are 2-3 years older.

"To be able to play center on the power play in the American Hockey League speaks volumes as to where his development has gone," U.S. coach Phil Housley told "He's very, very strong. You're going to need grit in this tournament, especially our team -- we're playing four games in five nights -- so definitely we're going to have to have some guys that play with some consistency and I see J.T. doing that."

Miller said every season he's played in a different league, the speed and strength of the players he faces on a nightly basis has gone up. And playing against older, stronger players in the AHL could make him better equipped for anything he'll face in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"It helps with the whole speed and the strength, the thing that's going to help me a lot more," Miller said. "Some of the guys we play against won't seem as strong or fast, and might prepare me that much more to make sure I'm playing my best. Use what I know and everything I've learned in the AHL."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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