2011 NHL Draft Prospects: No. 23 Jonathan Miller

Scouts are wary to take a chance on forward Jonathan Miller. Playing for the United States National Developmental Team Program, Miller has posted 11 goals and 37 points in 48 games this season – respectable numbers. But they believe he can do better. At 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds, he has the potential to make his presence known on the ice, but still has to show that he is willing to do that.

“Another pro-sized forward, Miller has the skill to generate chances for his wingers along with the skating ability to beat defenders one-on-one and finish himself,” says ESPN.com. “Again, like [Tyler] Biggs, scouts like how he competes; he’ll take a hit to make a play. Scouts aren’t quite sure that he has first-line potential but at the high end scouts see him as a second-line NHLer.”

Miller’s hands are solid and his skating and size will most likely take him to the next level. But scouts are nervous over whether or not he can think the game at a higher speed. After all, the difference between the USHL and the NHL are vast, with many prospects not even getting a sniff of the big league. Miller’s off-ice problems also helps contribute to scouts’ wariness to draft him in the first round.

“He missed games during the season when he was benched with a discipline thing,” one scout says. “I don’t think that will factor into his draft status really. USA Hockey sits kids out if they’re late for a meeting or miss a class. Lots of kids have had this type of thing (with the organization) and it really hasn’t been an issue. What you do see with him is a different type of discipline thing … Miller doesn’t hold back on playing in the (USNTDP) system but he’s a free-spirit kid. He’s really enthusiastic and probably gets carried away and gets outside what the coaches might want. It’s not that he’s a disturbance or a problem. It’s more like he gets too revved up and gets lost in the moment. If you put that down to hockey sense that’s a little hard on him. He’s actually a pretty decent play-maker. Maybe ‘game awareness’ is how you’d type it. It might be just a maturity thing.”

“Everyone wanted to see more skill from Miller this season and we expected that,” another scout said. “He’s shown the physical parts of the game — he has the size and skating and all that goes with it but he’s left me wanting more on skill. Does he have the skills you can project into a second-line player (at the NHL level)? If he does, he hasn’t shown it very often.”

And if Miller wants to be drafted early and have success at the professional level, he needs to begin working on his consistency and showing up game in and game out.

Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.

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