Miller closer to World Junior tourney
Rangers' first-round pick among 29 players competing for 22 roster spots
Rangers prospect J.T. Miller, the Blueshirts' first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is among 29 players who will be competing for 22 spots on the Team USA World Junior Championship roster.
Miller, who was among the top players at the U.S. Evaluation Camp last summer, made the important cut when his name was announced Monday as one of Team USA's preliminary roster members.
After spending the past two seasons in the U.S. National Team Development Program, Miller has been starring for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League this season. Through his first 29 OHL games, he was tied for the Plymouth scoring lead with 36 points and led the team with 25 assists.
Miller is likely to be one of at least two Rangers prospects in the World Junior Championship tournament, joining 2010 Rangers draftee Christian Thomas, who is in the running to play for Team Canada. Miller would give the Rangers a presence on Team USA for the third straight season. Others who have represented the U.S. in recent years include current Blueshirt Derek Stepan as well as Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque.
The camp Miller attends later this month will include exhibition games against Russia (Dec. 20), Switzerland (Dec. 21) and Slovakia (Dec. 23). The World Junior Championship tournament runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Calgary and Edmonton. Team USA will look to earn its third straight medal after capturing the bronze medal at the 2011 tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., and the gold medal at the 2010 tournament in Saskatoon, Sask.
Others at the camp include eight returning players from the bronze medal-winning 2011 U.S. World Junior team and two who were on the team with Stepan, Kreider and Bourque when the Americans won gold in 2010.