UND Losing Recruit J.T. Miller

As first reported by USA Today and later confirmed by The Pipeline Show, standout recruit J.T. Miller has decided to go play in the Ontario Hockey League instead of UND.

Miller has not returned a text from the Herald yet. A message also has been left with his advisor.

Miller originally committed to UND last October and went No. 15 overall to the New York Rangers in the draft last month. He was the first WCHA player selected in the draft.

After being picked, he told reporters that he was going to North Dakota and that he looked forward to “playing hard, just like the Sioux do.”

But things have obviously changed in the last two weeks.

The Ohio product will probably sign with the Rangers and play in the OHL — a similar move pulled by Colorado College recruit John Moore. Plymouth has his rights.

Miller was expected to headline the freshman class alongside his U.S. Under-18 linemate, Rocco Grimaldi.

54 Responses

  1. dead_rabbit

    I could have sworn that around draft time, Miller reemphasized his commitment to play for the Sioux.

    1. Stone

      He did and if it were totally up to him, he probably would have come. I’m sure NYR just want him to develop the way they want him to. We all know that UND puts out quality professionals but evidently that wasn’t enough to convince the Rangers… sad day. I’m a Ranger fan but this will sting for a long while

      1. dead_rabbit

        I’d understand if Miller had committed to a program where recruits don’t progress as much as the NHL org who drafted them would like them too (I won’t name names, but this program rhymes with Minnesota), but Miller committed to no such program.

        If you’re as highly touted as Miller is, you can tell who ever drafted you to pound sand when they’re putting pressure on you to renege on your commitment. What are they going to do, undraft you?

      2. lars21

        What about Stepan and McDonagh though? McDonagh’s rights were traded to NYR before his junior year and he still played a year at Wisc. Stepan was drafted by NYR and played 2 seasons at Wisc. Something else is behind this other than the Rangers pushing him to the OHL in my opinion.

  2. McBaine

    ridiculous! College Hockey Inc. needs to get involved in this for future player retention. For if a player has signed his commitment letter they should then not be able to forgo it till the next season. As for the rangers staff what a below the belt move. Hey Rangers look at to of your neighbors in Jersey that played at UND and are major contributors at that club.

    1. Brad

      Good point about the Devils 2 UND products. Damn I was looking forward to seeing JT in a Sioux sweater this season albeit probably only for 1 year. I wonder if the Sioux will now bring in another forward to replace him or not.

  3. BB

    Brad, any idea if JT Miller called the UND coaches to inform them of his decision before it went public, or did the coaches find out when everyone else did? It would be extremely disrespectful if he didn’t tell them beforehand.

  4. Yes this hurts, but the Fighting Sioux will be just fine without him. Sounds like he wanted the easy way out anyway!
    McBaine you have a point, but college hockey is under the ‘supervision’ of the NCAA — we know what that gets us!! NADA ……

  5. Schneids16

    I’ll take the UND products in the NHL versus the Plymouth products that are (have been) in the NHL.

    UND (here are 6 from the last few years who have become key players on their respective teams):
    Matt Greene;T.J. Oshie;Zach Parise;Drew Stafford;Jonathan Toews;Travis Zajac

    Plymouth (these were all players who have NHL XP per Wikipedia):
    Jamie Allison Yuri Babenko Jason Bacashihua Bryan Berard Jared Boll Jesse Boulerice Fred Brathwaite Evan Brophey Kevin Brown Eric Cairns Gregory Campbell Harold Druken Robert Esche Matthew Hackett Todd Harvey Sean Haggerty Cole Jarrett Tomas Kurka Chad LaRose Mark Lawrence David Legwand David Liffiton Paul Mara Eric Manlow Phil McRae Mike Minard John Mitchell James Neal Michal Neuvirth Pat Peake Justin Peters Keith Redmond Mike Rucinski Tyler Seguin Tim Sestito Tom Sestito Karl Stewart
    Damian Surma Chris Thorburn Nikos Tselios Kris Vernarsky Jason Ward
    Stephen Weiss Derek Wilkinson Justin Williams Chad Wiseman James Wisniewski Bob Wren

    1. Schneids16

      I don’t understand why someone would make the Plymouth choice when UND has a great reputation recently for producing high-end NHLers…

  6. siouxguy

    If he goes the way of Garrett Clarke, some teams may not be so quick to push a guy the Major junior way. Not sure if that was the case here, but it has been in some circumstances.

  7. sioux fan

    Every person has the right to do what they think is in their best interests. It is not about the fans or UND. Should JT have checked with UND fans first to see if its ok that he play somewhere else. Get real. Would have liked to se him play at UND. But good or bad JT will live with his decision.

    1. crb1

      JT certainly does have his right to do as he wishes but it says a lot about a person, whether that is good or bad, who can stick to their commitment. As my grandpa always said. ” A man is only as good as his word and if you don’t have that, What do you have?”

      Disappointed to see him decommit

        1. can'tyoucoach

          Dave Hakstol just found out how to lose before the season even begins. He truly is innovative.

      1. typical irrational sioux fan

        Yes, it was simply an attempt at making a satirical joke about that small set of sioux fans who blame every unfortunate occurrence on the purported “incompetence” of Dave Hakstol. For the record, Dave Hakstol has been the second best coach in college hockey since the beginning of his tenure.

        Be that as it may, this is a huge blow to next year’s freshman class. The rebuilding year has just gotten that much harder.

  8. He’s just a kid who changed his mind. He doesn’t owe any commenters on this blog an explanation. He chose the course he felt was best for him at this time. He may flop, or it may be the best decision of his hockey life. It would have been fun to watch JT, but the Sioux will move on and do just fine without him.

  9. Bis-Man Sioux Fan

    If it’s any consolation, Wisconsin lost its top returning player — Craig Smith — to the professional ranks today.

  10. Ole the goalie

    The last JT of high caliber recruited by UND was No. 1 choice of major junior, too, and chose UND (Jonathan Toews). Seems he’s done quite well in the pros going college route first. Sad that Miller isn’t following that path.

  11. Seriously?

    Have any of you people ever watched a CHL game? The top to bottom level of play (both player talent wise and overall team strength) is head and shoulders above what it is in college hockey. It takes a special player (ie Toews) to excel when developing with the minimal schedule and competition in college. I suspect JT Miller will not be the next Jonnie Toews, so he probably made a smart decision to play in the Ontario League.

    1. siouxguy

      Really, unless the CHL is far above the WHL, then your statement is just pure bunk. How can players like Corey Fienhage and David Toews see no ice time at UND, but somehow can find playing time in Major Juniors?

  12. Sioux-per-man

    Biggest mistake he’s EVER made in his Career. I could care less if he makes my favorite NHL team.

  13. barryR58

    nothing disloyal here.
    you’re fans and you’re being melodramatic.
    if the kid chose another college, that’d be insulting.
    if he joined the team for most of the season, then left in February that’d be abandoning his mates.
    but he decided against going to college, at age 18, before he had even enrolled.
    I respect his right to decide.

  14. phil

    Even if you claim that college hockey is tougher than the OHL(not true…but anyway), Miller will get the chance to skate upward of 80-plus games with Plymouth, which is something he’ll never be able to do in ND. And that makes a big difference for guys transitioning into the NHL from the NCAA. Going to the OHL may mean the difference between JT joining the Rangers in one or two years compared to three or four. He said on draft day that he wanted to make the NHL in two years. He’s joining a very strong team and one that produced Tyler Seguin not to long ago. Sure, he didn’t win any fans in Dakota. But really, can you blame the kid for advancing his career? I don’t.

    1. If it’s not true that college hockey is tougher than the OHL, how do you explain Sam Lofquist being a healthy scratch on a Minnesota team that didn’t make the NCAA tournament… then leaving school, going to the OHL and being a point-per-game defenseman? I remember Nigel Williams also not being able to crack Wisconsin’s lineup in 06-07, so he went to the OHL and was nearly a point-per-game guy there that year.

      Jonathan Toews went to UND and got to the NHL in time to be the second-youngest player in the league’s history to be a captain and the second-youngest to captain a Stanley Cup winning team (and the youngest hockey player ever to be in the Triple Gold club). Seems that the 45-game schedule didn’t hurt his transition too much. And here’s one more: Since 2004, when Zach Parise entered the NHL, he has scored more goals than every former Plymouth Whaler combined.

      That’s fine that J.T. went to OHL – I’m sure he has his reasons. But if you think Plymouth has a better track record of NHLers, I can tally up stats of NHL games, goals, assists, points, contracts, dollars made, etc., and compare UND to Plymouth, and UND will be ahead in every category, I guarantee it.

    1. Walrus

      Please Brad, by any means possible keep your writing absolutely formal when responding in the comments section of a blog… The adult-children of the internet world don’t need that as ammunition!

      Also I think Brad’s absolutely correct on the CHL-NCAA comparison.

  15. Jolly George

    52% of NHL players have played in the CHL, 22% from the OHL alone. 33% of NHL players have played NCCA hockey.

  16. Sioux-per-man

    I was looking forward to watching him play for UND ( As a huge Ranger Fan).
    I didn’t realise had he stayed in school he would NOT be able to participate in the Rangers developement camps or play in the Traverse Tournament in September. Apparently this voids their scholorship. Which make no sense at all. If it is a development camp, how is that any different than playing in a U20 tournament for your country?
    I guess he will get twice the games in the OHL, than at UND. Who knows – he isn’t going to make the Rangers club for a couple of years, but I could see him playing for the Whale sooner than later. He’s only 18.
    It would have been nice to watch him in a Sioux Jersey!!!
    Not so sure if he will ever where a Ranger Jersey, not so sure I even care now.

      1. Sioux-per-man

        I’m not a fan of him leaving The Fighting Sioux at the last minute, AT ALL.
        But if he cant attend the New York Rangers training camp, or he is not allowed to play in the Traverse City tournament with other Rangers draft picks. I could see why this might detour some players that are high draft picks to take the Canadian junior route, to the pro’s.

        Brad what’s the difference between the two camps. Are they not both development camps?
        Even if he flys out there on his own dime?

        1. Development camp is in the summer and is attended by draft picks and some young players in the organization. Training camp is held prior to the start of the year and is used to determine who makes the NHL squad. J.T. won’t be at training camp for long – he will get assigned to Plymouth.

  17. Taz Boy

    Tough decision(s) for a young kid. No question there is a tremendous amount of pressure from coaches/advisors/execs/family as to what he should be doing to increase his NHL playing potential. 99.99% of adults will never experience anything near this level of attention and pressure at such a young age; at any age.

    I took the family to the X to see the first round on Friday, and was very excited to watch as JT Miller came on stage. Sure, I’m disappointed that such a high draft pick will not be on the Sioux. But, we still wish him well, along with all the other kids going pro. The NHL puts out a fantastic product, best hockey in the world right in our backyard.

    Go Sioux.

  18. Nathanjw

    I’ve had the experience of being a fan of both the OHL and college. I’m a diehard Whalers fan 1st Western Michigan Bronco 2nd. Went to games at Compuware for 11 years from 7-18 and now am a Senior at WMU. I love the atmosphere at the college level but the talent is not at the OHL level. Average OHL team would beat UMD last year.

    Kitchener has won and been to multiple Memorial Cup’s which is winning the OHL to get there and won at least 2 of them. They are at the top of the OHL right now. If you have never seen the Memorial Cup tune it in lat May on NHL Network. Much better passes more speed and looks like the NHL game. College is slower and a lot more shooting to shoot because passes are missed more at the college level.

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