K'Andre Miller
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New York Rangers’ 2018 first-round draft pick K’Andre Miller is enjoying his sophomore year with the Wisconsin Badgers. An invitation from Team USA is expected early next month.

Frank Curto

The New York Rangers have to be impressed with K’Andre Miller’s development. The 19-year-old, in his second year at the University of Wisconsin, is again leading the Badgers on defense.

Miller had an outstanding freshman season, recording 22 points in 26 games and made the Big Ten’s all-rookie team. A knee injury forced him to miss some game at the end of the year, but he came back this year with no lingering issues.

There was some speculation following the end of last season that Miller might opt to sign an entry-level contract with the Rangers and leave college early.

That didn’t happen and the kid is in no rush to put himself in a tough situation too early.

“I didn’t feel like I was really ready or prepared for that next step yet,” Miller said via ESPN.com’s Chris Peters.

“Obviously, with these coaches [at Wisconsin], you’re not going to find that anywhere else. So I knew I wanted to develop a little bit more on and off the ice with these guys.”

The decision to stay at Wisconsin displays how far he has grown in his development to be an NHL player in the near future.

Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury has been watching Miller since he was drafted and likes what he has seen up to this point.

“We are very happy where he’s at on his development curve,” Drury said, regarding  Miller’s choice to remain in school. “We know he’s in great hands, learning a lot every single day, not only on ice, but off [the] ice.”

Miller realizes he has to continue to improve his play as he waits for his time to step up to the NHL. He has plenty of former Badgers who have NHL experience. Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios and current NHL standouts Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh are just some of the Wisconsin ALumni that Miller hopes to emulate one day.

The Badgers, under former Rangers’ player Tony Granato, are currently 6-7 this season (they have dropped their last two decisions). Miller has recorded five goals with nine points in 14 games this season.

Miller’s goal on Saturday night extended his point streak to four games (two goals, three assists).

World Junior Championships

Miller is expected to be invited to play for Team USA at the World Junior Championships with an official invite expected to come in early December. This will be the second time he will appear at the WJC. He was a member of the team last season, recording one assist in six games.

The World Junior Championships begin on Dec. 26 in the Czech Republic. K’Andre is not just expected to be a member of the team; he will be expected to be one of the leaders of Team USA as well.

Miller is a great two-way skater with plenty of offensive talent. He and his Team USA teammates will be tested immediately as their first game of the tournament will be against the rival Team Canada.

With players like Adam Fox, Libor Hajek and Ryan Lindgren among the current players o the Rangers team, there is no rush to get Miller into a Rangers (or Hartford) jersey.

Miller has a good head on his shoulders. Along with taking in sound advice from others who have been in his situation, h will know when it is the right time to leave college and sign a professional contract.

For now, fans will get another opportunity to see him wear the red, white and blue of Team USA in December.

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