#K’Andre Miller has thrived, but won’t play for Rangers this year

#K’Andre Miller has thrived, but won’t play for Rangers this year

July 25, 2020 | 4:04am

Turns out that the biggest eye-opener of the Rangers’ summer camp has been the one player ineligible to compete at the upcoming Stanley Cup tournament.

But if the work from K’Andre Miller is representative of what the Blueshirts can expect from the 22nd-overall choice of the 2018 entry draft, then waiting ’til next year (or maybe the year after that) shouldn’t be all that much of a burden.

“I think he’s really gotten more comfortable. You could see the nerves early on, but I think he’s really acclimated himself and played with an awful lot of confidence and has kept things simple,” David Quinn said of the 6-foot-5, 20-year-old lefty defenseman, who appeared in complete control during Friday’s scrimmage. “You see the physical tools he has, and he’s a special physical specimen. And he’s a guy who understands what he’s capable of doing.”

Miller, who signed with the Blueshirts in March following his sophomore season at Wisconsin, is ineligible this summer because his contract begins next season. The Rangers’ left side consists of Ryan Lindgren, Marc Staal and Brendan Smith, with perhaps Libor Hajek next on the depth chart. Staal and Smith both have one year remaining on their contracts. Opportunities to earn a spot will abound.

“I love the fact that he didn’t try to do too much. He let the game come to him and did a good job defending,” Quinn said of Miller’s work in the scrimmage. “Like I said [Thursday], I loved the plays he was making in small areas, on quick turnovers he made the right play.

“Just a lot of good things from him over the last couple of weeks.”

Blueshirts have assigned Lias Andersson to HV-71 on loan for 2020-21. Andersson, who has one season remaining on his NHL entry-level deal that he signed after being selected seventh overall in the 2017 draft, recorded 12 points (7-5) in 15 games for HV-71 last year. The Swedish Hockey League is expected to begin its season on schedule in the fall.

Brett Howden, who shifted almost exclusively to the wing just before Christmas, has been skating at center on the fourth line with Greg McKegg on the left and Julien Gauthier on the right.

McKegg is also a natural center who did most of his work in the middle for the Blueshirts, but Quinn pointed to Howden’s work at the dots as a reason for the alignment. Thing is, Howden came in at 48.2 percentage and McKegg at 49.3 during the season, so there’s obviously more to it than that.

“There’s really not a lot of difference if we put Howden or McKegg in the middle, it’s just something that we want to do,” Quinn said. “Howden’s been real good on faceoffs, so I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point he’s struggling on draws, we put McKegg in the middle.

“It’s not something I’m married to, but it looks good so far.”

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