Grading the Maple Leafs’ 2020 NHL Draft Class: Joe Miller

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Here’s my analysis and scouting report for Leafs draftee Joe Miller. If you’re interested, check out the full article here.

Joe Miller

Drafted: Round 6, 180th overall
Age: Turned 18 on September 15th
Height: 5’9
Weight: 146 lbs
Position: C/RW
2019-20 Season: 25g/34a/59p in 25 games with Blake School (USHS-MN), 7g/6a/13p in 17 games with Team TDS Transportation (UMHSEHL) 
2020-21 Season as of October 7th: Set to start the season with Chicago Steel (USHL), is committed to the University of Minnesota for the 2020-21 season.
Projected Draft Position: Late Round Shot

When the Leafs picked Joe Miller, I had myself a kick out of looking at his height and weight. Only Kyle Dubas would pick a guy who weighs 146 pounds, right?

Well, Joe Miller actually goes much deeper than that.

Miller is one of the youngest players in this draft, born right on the cutoff date. It’s one of the biggest factors that makes him so intriguing. As the Leafs’ Director of Amateur Scouting said, “He is a really under-developed young man.”.

The issue is, no one seemed to really know anything about him.

Here’s what I can tell. Three things jump out to me about Miller. His speed, his shot, and his hands.

Joe Miller can skate really well. His size doesn’t look like a major problem for him because he’ll just breeze past the defense.

For a guy with his frame, he can shoot the puck really well. Even with his lacking strength, he’s a goal-scoring threat.

He also has silky smooth hands, a lethal duo with his speed to get past defenders. His hockey IQ allows him to think the game at a high rate, so he’s able to make the right decisions to make the best play, whether it’s breezing past the defensemen, taking the shot, or passing for a better chance.

Defensively, he’s not terrible, but there’s only so far you can go at 146 pounds. He’s agile and is able to think the game well enough for him to make the right play if needed. But how does that translate to the next level?

That’s the biggest question with Joe Miller. He played a singular game in the USHL in his D-1 year, coached by current Marlies coach Greg Moore. How do you figure out what does and doesn’t translate?

Joe Miller is a long-term project. He’s the kind of guy that you let physically mature and develop and then suddenly he’s a Hobey Baker candidate.

The Toronto Maple Leafs own his rights until 2025, which, obviously, is a long time.

High school prospects are difficult enough to predict. However, a guy like Miller, who’s super young, not physically developed, and hasn’t played at a high enough level is almost impossible to predict.

That makes Joe Miller such an intriguing prospect. What is he? That’s a question that’ll take a while to be answered.

Grade: B

This grade could look ridiculous in five years. Either it’ll be way too high or way too low, there’s no in-between.

The Leafs are banking on potential, and Joe Miller is brimming with it. He’s still a senior in high school, he has a lot of time to grow. However, Miller has a lot of developing to do, especially as he grows.

He’ll get to do just that. He’s set to play with the Chicago Steel of the USHL, and then he’ll play NCAA hockey in Minnesota. Miller has time.

I don’t know what Miller will be. Whereas a lot of the Leafs’ prospects in this draft are finding success against grown men, Miller last played hockey against kids coming off of Algebra class (probably).

As of right now, he looks to be a middle-six forward. He plays centre right now, but I seriously doubt that will continue as he reaches college.

Such an interesting prospect, but he’s a name you’ll have to remember long-term.

He also hopes to play beside a player he models his game after… 23-year-old Mitch Marner. Feel old yet?

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Spencer White is an Editor of Hockey at Overtime Heroics. He writes about hockey, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Newfoundland Growlers, and the Toronto Six. You can find him on Twitter at @FreeNylander, @MagicianMarner, and @LeafsMoves.