J.T. Miller, arguably the top prospect in the Rangers system, has long expressed a desire to turn pro for the 2012-13 season and make the Blueshirts. With the season now up in the air because of the labor dispute, though, Miller is back with his junior team, the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers.
Training camp and the preseason are both underway for the Whalers, and Miller has stood out in the early going. The 2011 first round pick scored the winning shootout goal for his side in a camp scrimmage, and followed it up with an assist during a 2-0 win against the Windsor Spitfires. The center has already impressed this summer with strong play at the U.S. World Junior evaluation camp.
One of the most intriguing Ranger-related performances last season came from another center, Michael St. Croix of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings. A fourth round pick in 2011, St. Croix notched 105 points in 72 games (19 points in 20 playoff games). Like Miller, St. Croix is also back with his junior team and off a to a similarly strong start.
In a 5-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels, St. Croix scored a goal and added an assist. He also scored a goal and recorded three assists in two scrimmages at Oil Kings camp.
Unfortunately, Ranger fans lost the opportunity to see some of the organization’s future with the cancellation of the Traverse City prospect tournament, so juniors and the American Hockey League will have to do. Prospects like Andrew Yogan, Christian Thomas, and Dylan McIlrath are done with juniors and slated to join the Connecticut Whale this season.