Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Mitch Miller.
Drafted 17th overall by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the 2017 USHL Futures Draft, defenceman Mitch Miller was moved to the Tri-City Storm in a 2019 off-season trade. He went on to have a breakout season with the Storm. Miller scored eight goals and 25 assists for 33 points in 44 games. He was also named to the USHL First All-Star Team. Miller also played for Team USA at the World Junior “A” Hockey Challenge. He scored two goals and six points in six games, helping the team to a silver medal.
In 2018-19, Miller had four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 48 games. He appeared in six playoff games but did not record a point. Miller also appeared for Team USA at the WJAC, winning a gold medal. He also played in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, putting up five points in five games as the Americans finished in fourth place. Miller played for Team Red at the USA Select Under-17 tournament. He picked up one goal and three points in five games. Miller is committed to playing hockey for the University of North Dakota next season. His CHL rights are owned by the Sarnia Sting, should he change his mind.
Mitch Miller Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born December 20th, 2001 — Sylvania, Ohio
Height 5’10” — Weight 181 lbs [178 cm/82 kg]
Miller is a very good skater. His first step is dynamic and his acceleration is very good. He also has excellent speed in both directions and reaches that speed extremely quickly. Miller can join the rush or pinch in at the blue line and still get back defensively. He also has outstanding edgework. His turns are sharp and he is able to gain speed with his crossovers as he comes out of the turn. Miller’s pivots are also very sharp which also allows him to transition from offence to defence and vice-versa. He could stand to improve his agility though and walk the line to create more offensive chances. Miller is strong on his skates though, he can fight through checks. He could stand to increase his upper body strength to win more battles on the boards.
Miller has excellent stickhandling ability. He is able to handle the puck while moving at top speed as well as while he makes his quick cuts. This allows Miller to avoid forecheckers and get the puck out of his end. He is also able to lead the rush through the neutral zone. Miller is able to generate effective zone entries. He can also make a good first pass to start the transition game. Miller has good vision and can quarterback the play from the blue line. He is poised with the puck on his stick and is willing to move around the zone to create passing lanes. His quick stickhandling and puck protection allow him to move down the boards and get involved in the cycle.
Miller also has a very good shot. He gets off a strong one-timer and slapshot from the point. He could stand to walk the line more to avoid shot blockers and get it on the net through traffic. Miller is also willing to sneak down to the top of the circles and let go of a wrist shot. He gets this off quickly, with a good release. His wrist shot is accurate and powerful. He does a good job of keeping it low, allowing teammates to provide screens, pounce on rebounds, and deflect his shot on the net. Miller pinches down the boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Miller’s skating helps him to play a 200-foot game. He gets back defensively even when pinching or joining the rush. His good skating makes him hard to beat in one-on-one situations. He could stand to get stronger and play a more physical game though. Miller can have issues winning battles along the boards against stronger opponents as well as in clearing the front of the net. Miller is a smart player, who plays his position well. He uses his stick to cut down passing lanes and intercept pucks. Miller’s ability to transition the puck out of the zone is helpful in limiting the opponent’s zone time.
Projection and Comparison
If things go well in development, Miller could become a top-four NHL defenceman. He will need to gain strength and going the NCAA route with its lesser schedule could give him the time to put muscle on his frame. He will also need to continue to work on rounding out his game and improving his lateral movements. Miller’s game is reminiscent of Colin Miller, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Mitch Miller that are available on youtube and twitter.
Goals from Brendan Brisson and this one from Mitch Miller helps the U.S. to a 3-1 lead heading into the final frame! #WJAC
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) December 13, 2019
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) December 13, 2019
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) December 10, 2019
— Tri-City Storm (@TriCityStorm) January 26, 2020
Mitch Miller is heading to The University of North Dakota to play hockey this fall. If he continues to develop at the pace he is now, his coaches think he has pro potential. pic.twitter.com/xKDovJlYJo
— Kristi Kopanis (@Kristi_Kopanis) June 28, 2019
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Mitch Miller Main Photo:
— Tri-City Storm (@TriCityStorm) May 31, 2019