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Rangers' K'Andre Miller is a big presence on defense

K'Andre Miller skates during New York Rangers Prospect

K'Andre Miller skates during New York Rangers Prospect Camp at Madison Square Garden Training Center in Greenburgh, NY on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Credit: James Escher

STAMFORD, Conn. — At the end of his first Prospect Development Camp with the Rangers, goalie Igor Shesterkin was asked Friday what he thought of playing behind defenseman K’Andre Miller in scrimmages during the last three days.

“He’s a big and strong defenseman,’’ Shesterkin said of Miller, through translation by Rangers director of European scouting Nick Bobrov. “And I feel like there’s a wall in front of me.’’

Miller, the second of three first-round picks by the Rangers in 2018 (they traded up to get him at No. 22 overall), is big, all right. Bigger than the 6-4, 200 pounds he is listed at on the roster handed out by the Rangers.

“I may have gained an inch or two and put on some weight,’’ he said. “I’m about 6-5 right now, 210. Still room for improvement.’’

Rangers fans won’t get to see Miller in preseason games this fall. The 19-year-old will return to the University of Wisconsin, where he’ll be a sophomore. He could join the Rangers after the college season ends if he and the organization decide the time is right for him to turn professional.

As for now, the native of St. Paul, Minnesota, isn’t saying if he has a target date for when he wants to turn pro.

“Honestly, right now, I’m just taking it day by day,’’ he said. “I’m not trying to get too far in the future. Just taking it day by day and trying to improve my game.’’

Miller’s game already is at a pretty good level. In his first year in college hockey, he had five goals and 17 assists in 26 games before a knee injury ended his season. He also played six games for the United States at the World Junior Championships and helped the Americans earn a silver medal.

Even though he was working only against other draftees and young prospects, Miller — who said on Thursday that he’s still not 100 percent after the injury — showed plenty of skating ability during camp. He was quick to drive to the slot area on offense when space opened up for a shot, and able to high-tail it back on defense when the puck was turned over.

With a lefthanded shot, it’s easy to imagine him taking that spot on the first-pair defense in the not-too-distant future.

“I try not to think about that stuff too much, but obviously, everyone wants to be the best on their team,’’ Miller said when asked where he sees himself fitting in with the Rangers when the time comes. “So I’m going to keep on striving for that and keep doing my thing.’’

Notes & quotes: First-round pick Kaapo Kakko scored his only goal (other than a shootout goal) in the first period of the final scrimmage Friday, against Shesterkin. “Thank God he will play on our team so it’s not going to happen again,’’ Shesterkin said . . . Defenseman Nils Lundkvist missed the first two scrimmages but returned for the third. He scored a goal against Tyler Wall.

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