K’Andre Miller will miss out on his next opportunity to impress the New York Rangers staff as he’s been forced off the USA Hockey World Junior Summer Showcase roster due to illness. Miller, selected 22nd-overall in June’s draft, will give up his spot to Max Gildon, a third-round pick of the Florida Panthers who attended the Showcase last summer as well.
Miller will play this season at the University of Wisconsin, and continue to develop as a defenseman after switching positions from forward just two years ago. Though he’ll need time to develop his defensive instincts further, there are already signs that Miller could grade out as a top-end option for the Rangers down the line. His length and skating ability should allow him to thrive in the NCAA right away, though the World Juniors may have to wait until next year.
- James van Riemsdyk knew that he wouldn’t be back with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season long before he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, as his former team was up front with him heading into free agency. van Riemsdyk told media including Adam Kimelman of NHL.com that the Maple Leafs informed him they would be going in a different direction a few weeks before July 1st, and that he was grateful to them for being so honest. Interestingly, if we’re to believe that John Tavares made up his mind to go to the Maple Leafs just the night before signing, the team was prepared to let van Riemsdyk walk regardless and would have had an immense amount of cap space to go after other free agents. Signing a five-year $35MM contract with the Flyers, van Riemsdyk was arguably the second-best free agent option on the market behind Tavares.
- Jake Virtanen has a lot of pressure on him to perform up to his high draft status this season, and he’s enlisted the help of a somewhat non-traditional source. Pavel Barber, the YouTube stickhandling sensation, has been working with Virtanen this summer according to Mike Johnston of Sportsnet. Barber runs coaching camps across North America and is known for his off-ice stickhandling routines, and Virtanen apparently can already feel an improvement in his game. After struggling to carve out a top-six role for himself despite a sixth-overall draft selection, any help is appreciated by Virtanen and the Vancouver Canucks. The 21-year old forward signed a two-year contract yesterday, and has a lot of pressure on him to perform in the next couple of seasons.