DALLAS – K’Andre Miller enjoys being a myth-breaker. Now he’ll get a chance to do it on Broadway.
Miller, a smooth-skating defenseman with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, was selected by the New York Rangers with the 22nd overall pick of the 2018 National Hockey League Draft in Dallas Friday night.
The Rangers traded up in the draft with the Ottawa Senators for a chance to grab Miller.
“It means the world to have a team to want you that bad to trade for you,” Miller told reporters. “For them to have that opportunity for me, it’s pretty cool, I’m excited.”
He’s also excited about the prospect of playing in a diverse market like New York to further help shatter stereotypes about blacks and ice hockey and spread the message that hockey is indeed for everyone.
“Being African-American, the opportunity doesn’t come that often. I worked very hard to be in this position,” he said. “And for all the young kids out there, anything’s possible. I was a kid just a little while ago and to be here really means a lot.”
The NYR traded up to select K’Andre Miller at No. 22. “Being African American, the opportunity doesn’t come very often. I worked very hard to be in this position.” pic.twitter.com/4wikUvNVXL
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) June 23, 2018
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Minnetonka, Minnesota, said people sometimes ask if he was a basketball player because of his size and frame.
“It’s always been my motivation to prove to people that no matter what your skin color is, what you look like in general, you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” Miller told me last year. “When I see people of color in my community in Minnetonka and Hopkins trying to play hockey, I always go up to them whenever I can and straight-up tell them ‘Don’t listen to what anybody says. Play whatever you want to play, if it’s hockey, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, whatever you want to do. Just do it.’”
Miller, 18, a mobile defenseman, moved up NHL Central Scouting’s draft rankings over the season, jumping to 23rd-best North American skater from 31st at mid-season.
Miller had 7 goals and 17 assists in 50 games. Not bad for a player who switched to defense from forward two seasons ago. He skated for the U.S. at the 2018 IIHF U18 world juniors, scoring a goal and 2 assists in seven games.
“I’m a defenseman that’s real hard to play against, offensive-defensive zone,” Miller said.
The Rangers will have to wait a while for Miller’s Broadway debut. He’ll play for the University of Wisconsin Badgers and former Rangers forward Tony Granato this fall.
Miller traces his interest in becoming a professional hockey player to Minnesota Wild team captain Mikko Koivu.
“For my ninth birthday, I went down to Dallas to watch the Stars play the Wild,” Miller told me last year. “We went down to the locker room after the game and Mikko came up to me, shook my hand, said happy birthday, and asked when the next time I would be at a home game in Minnesota because he was going to try to get me a stick.
“I went back to the rink in Minnesota about two months later and he picked me out in the stands, he had the trainer come up with a stick and hand it right to me,” Miller added. “That was probably the coolest experience I think I’ve ever had with an NHL player.”
Erica L. Ayala contributed to this report.
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