3. Is K’Andre Miller the real deal?
While Alexis Lafreniere will be dominating headlines and the spotlight on Opening Night for the New York Rangers, there is another rookie who could also be making his first start of what could be a stellar career.
Yes, after an outstanding and hugely impressive Training Camp, it looks set that rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller will be on the Opening Night roster for the Rangers.
And, not only will Miller be on the roster but it also seems certain that the 20-year-old will win the job as Jacob Trouba‘s partner on the top-pairing.
That is noteworthy in itself given that Head Coach David Quinn experimented with a number of different partners for Trouba last year, and none of them worked out particularly well. It was particularly frustrating because it forced Trouba to play different styles of hockey, as opposed to the stay-at-home, physically punishing defenseman that the Rangers have long craved.
But Miller and Trouba have forged an intricate understanding during Training Camp, with Miller an imposing presence with his 6-foot-5 frame and it could have the makings of being an elite shutdown role for the Blueshirts.
Miller’s long-reach and natural fierce competitiveness will make it tough on opponents, while it could also free up Trouba to jump up and join the offense on the rush and use his big, booming slap shot.
While it wasn’t expected that Miller would be NHL ready this early, and while there may well be growing pains along the way, the prospect has long been heralded as the next big thing by the Rangers front office since being drafted 22nd overall in 2018, and he could now make history by being one of only a select few Rangers defensemen to make their NHL debuts before the age of 21.
And, with a proven and high-end veteran in Jacob Trouba alongside him, we could end up talking about two New York Rangers rookies in K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere battling it out for the Calder Trophy.