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NHL 2018 Mock Draft: Ottawa Senators look to Wisconsin with Wisconsin’s K’Andre Miller

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USHL Fall Classic - Day 3 Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Once more, Hockey Wilderness is projecting a mock draft as we count down to the NHL draft on June 22. Today, we land on the Ottawa Senators with pick 22.

The Ottawa Senators had a brilliant season in 2016-17, nearly making the Stanley Cup Finals. They didn’t. And then, in 2017-18, they underachieved and disappointed fans. To make matters worse, Erik Karlsson is on the last year of his deal. It’s possible he will re-sign with Ottawa, but as TSN points out, the Senators don’t have a tendency to give out big, long-term contacts.

The Senators are taking steps to remedy that. After taking Brady Tkachuk 4th overall, the Senators have another first-round pick at 22.

After adding a gritty center/winger in Tkachuk, the Sens add defenseman K’Andre Miller from U.S. National Development Program and the University of Wisconsin.

Scouting Report

We at Hockey Wilderness would be remiss if we buried the lede: Miller is One Of Us, from Hopkins Minnesota. After years in the U.S. Development Program, K’Andre has committed to the University of Wisconsin.

Future Considerations describes Miller as a “two way defender.... manages to display consistency in all three zones.” He is a good skater with the ability to accelerate and maneuver in ways you wouldn’t expect a 6’3”, 205-pound defenseman to. Miller has a lot of strength, and can use it to shield the puck, shed defenders, or separate them from the puck as is needed.

He plays aggressively along the boards and in front of net... in short, he displays all the things you want to see if a solid defenseman. Miller’s biggest negatives are his hands; they’re decent, but not stellar. He will (again, according to Future Considerations) “probably never be an offensive dynamo but he can cover the basics.”

Would he Fit with the Wild?

In a word? Yes. In two words? Heck yes. A big, physical defenseman who can skate, move the puck, and has decent offensive instincts? In short, yes, he fits with the Wild, or just about any other team that could draft him. By all accounts, Miller is sound defensively with good gap control and the size to clear the crease and defense the blue line.

The question is: could the Wild get him?

The answer is also yes. Miller is ranked between 16th (Hockeyprospect.com) and 23 (NHL Central Scouting, among all North American Skaters). He’s ranked 20th by Future Considerations and 17th by McKeen’s Hockey. Drafting at 24th, it is entirely possible the Hopkins native drops to the Wild. It is also possible that the Wild package some picks together, or some prospects and the 24th overall, to get Miller.

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed through this profile that something was missing: discussion of K’Andre Miller’s offensive numbers. They’re not outstanding and eye-popping. Neither are they pathetic. In the USHL in 2016-17, Miller put in 7 points in 34 games. That same year in the U.S. Development Program, he put in 17 points in 54 games. Neither of these are promising. In 2017-18, he only scored 16 points in the USHL, this time in 22 games; much better. Also in 17-18 in the Development Program he put up 29 points in 58 games.

Given these increases, it’s fair to expect them to continue to improve. Even if they don’t, a half a point per game is not awful. On the other hand, Miller’s floor is quite high; Jonas Brodin has offensive struggles and is still a stellar defenseman. Now imagine Brodin but 6’3” and over 200 pounds, with the aggressiveness to use it. Quite a player.

BONUS

Imagine the beer-based puns with K’Andre. As you can see in the video below: “Miller Time” is just the tip of the iceberg.