The Rangers have engaged in dialogue with the representatives for Wisconsin sophomore defenseman K’Andre Miller, with the 22nd overall selection in the 2018 draft leaning toward leaving school and turning pro, The Post has been told.
Miller had a rocky season for the underachieving Badgers, who were ousted from the Big Ten Tournament with an opening-round sweep by Ohio State to finish the season a shocking 14-20-2 despite three NHL first-rounders — Miller; Alex Turcotte, fifth overall by Los Angeles in 2019; Cole Caufield, 15th overall by Montreal in 2019 — on the roster.
The 6-foot-4, 207-pound, 20-year-old also struggled for Team USA in the World Junior Tournament, but did improve on both sides of the puck over the season’s second half. Miller finished with 18 points (7-11) in 36 games after having recorded 22 points (5-17) in 26 games as a freshman.
The Blueshirts ideally would like to sign Miller to an entry level contract that would begin next season while getting the defenseman to Hartford on a PTO (Professional Try Out) agreement for the remainder of the current AHL season and potential playoffs.
Mika Zibanejad, who last week was named the NHL’s second star for February, on Monday was named the league’s first star of the first week of March, off his seven-goal output over three games that was capped by Thursday’s historic five-goal night against the Capitals.
No. 93 has recorded nine of the 17 goals scored by Rangers over the past five games since his left wing, Chris Kreider, left the lineup with a broken foot. Zibanejad has taken 22 shots on 39 attempts in the interim, but said that he has not altered his game since Phil Di Giuseppe moved into Kreider’s spot.
“You try not to change your game,” said Zibanejad, whose team opens a three-game trip in Dallas on Tuesday. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about [Kreider], and he’s a big, key player for our team and our line. He does so much when he’s out there.
“I’ve said this before, it’s hard to play with two new guys on a line, and the guys who have been playing with me and [Pavel Buchnevich] have done a good job. I don’t think the production from the team side or my side changes because of that.”
David Quinn admitted to considering affecting dramatic changes in line combinations, but is staying with the same units that opened Saturday’s game against the Devils. The coach utilized 13 different combinations in the third period of the 6-4 defeat, with Kaapo Kakko getting one turn with Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.
But when asked whether any of the new combinations piqued his interest, Quinn said, “No … nothing in that game piqued my interest.”
The Blueshirts have reached a contract agreement with Michigan State senior free-agent center Patrick Khodorenko, who will report immediately to the Wolf Pack. The 6-foot, 200-pound, 21-year-old, born in Walnut Creek, Calif., recorded 33 points (16-17) this year and a sum of 120 points (54-66) in his four seasons with the Spartans.