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Rangers Trade Up to Nab Defenseman K'Andre Miller

Blueliner comes from US National Team Development Program

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

DALLAS -- There's few better ways for an organization to show they want their guy in a draft than trading up to select him.

And that's what the Rangers did Friday night when they flipped picks 26 and 48 to Ottawa to select defenseman K'Andre Miller.

The gesture was appreciated by Miller, an 18-year-old defenseman out of the U.S. National Team Development Program.

"It means the world. To have a team really want you that bad that they trade for you really means everything," Miller said. "I'm dedicated and I'm a pretty determined person. For them to have that opportunity for me has been pretty cool. I'm excited."

Miller isn't sure how high his ceiling is as a blueliner. That's because it's still a new position for him. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Miller changed positions just over two years ago after a spot opened up on his high school's blueline.

"I'm a defenseman that's really hard to play against," said Miller, who added he hasn't closed the door completely on playing some at forward. "Hard to play against in the offense and defensive zone. Every once in a while I like to use my offensive abilities from playing forward my whole life. I like to show those quite often."

"He just caught on," Gordie Clark, the Rangers' Director of Player Personnel, said of Miller, who he compared to Brady Skjei. "His mobility is outstanding; his passing is good. He's on the power play at times but I wouldn't say he's a power play guy for the NHL. He's going to be a top-four defenseman."

Miller wrapped up his career in the USNTDP this year with nine goals and 20 assists for 29 points in 58 regular season and tournament games with the U.S. National U18 squad.

In 22 games with Team USA in the United States Hockey League, Miller registered four goals and 12 assists for 16 points to lead the team with 0.73 points per game, which was fifth overall among defensemen in the USHL.

The move to defense to fill a team need is an example of Miller's high character, which he said he hopes to put to work once he arrives in New York.

"Once I get to New York, I'm looking forward to starting to do some community service projects," said Miller, who will begin his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin this fall. "Getting out in the community and really just getting myself out there. Getting out there and changing a community is always kind of what I've wanted to do. To be in this position that I am is definitely a dream come true."

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