One could make a pretty credible argument that the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team is the biggest story of the NHL right now. The Stanley Cup Finals, which Tampa Bay leads 1-0, feature two former Badgers in Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Canadiens forward Cole Caufield and now New York Rangers defenseman, and former Badger, K’Andre Miller was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.
Presenting the 2020-21 NHL All-Rookie Team:— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 30, 2021
Alex Nedeljkovic of the @Canes
K’Andre Miller of the @NYRangers
Ty Smith of the @NJDevils
Kirill Kaprizov of the @mnwild
Josh Norris of the @Senators
Jason Robertson of the @DallasStars#NHLAwards #NHLStats: https://t.co/5Nc2BQfKHh pic.twitter.com/V4agjgIkaO
Miller received 74 out of 100 votes for the team and is joined by New Jersey Devils defenseman Ty Smith on the blueline.
Miller, the No. 22 overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft, ranked second among rookie defensemen in both average time on ice (21:07) and total time on ice (1,118:49) while registering a +9 rating – tied for second among first-year blueliners. Miller, who played in 53 of New York’s 56 games, also led rookie defensemen in goals (five) and blocked shots (77) and placed third in overall scoring (5-7—12). He topped rookie blueliners and finished sixth among all NHL defensemen with 33 takeaways while receiving only 20 penalty minutes, the second-fewest among rookies who averaged at least 20 minutes per game in 2020-21 (minimum: 10 GP).
K'Andre Miller is the first former #Badgers player on the NHL All-Rookie Team since Justin Schultz in 2013.— Todd Milewski (@ToddMilewski) June 30, 2021
Others: Jake Gardiner 2012, Tom Gilbert 2008, Dany Heatley 2002, Brian Rafalski 2000, Jim Carey 1995, Tony Granato 1989, Gary Suter 1986, Chris Chelios 1985.
Miller joins some pretty heady company in New York as he is the fourth defenseman in Rangers history who has been voted to the All-Rookie Team, joining Brady Skjei (2016-17), Michael Del Zotto (2009-10) and Brian Leetch (1988-89). Other notable Badgers that were named to the All-Rookie Team include Chris Chelios, Tony Granato, Brian Rafalski and Dany Heatley. He is the first Badger to be named to the team since Justin Schultz in 2013.
The native of Minnesota was selected in the first round (No. 22 overall) by the Rangers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and was named Big Ten Honorable Mention and to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in the 2018-19 season in Madison.