NHL draft tracker: David Miller, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Miller is one of four 'Hounds rated by NHL Central Scouting (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)
Miller is one of four 'Hounds rated by NHL Central Scouting (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

David Miller has warmed to being a little big man for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The 18-year-old Burlington, Ont., native credits the off-season he had to why he has had breakout with the Greyhounds, establishing himself as energetic centre who can supply a lot of elbow grease along the boards even while topping out at  5-foot-8½ and 180 pounds. Miller's tenacity has helped the 'Hounds get out to a lead in the OHL's West Division as the season nears its midpoint.

"I want to show my physical play, I want to show that I'm really strong and I just want to get stronger," says Miller, who has 10 goals and 22 points over 30 games for one of the OHL's more balanced teams. ".If guys are coming to hit me, I want them to bounce off me.

"I think the strongest part of my game is just my work in the corners," adds Miller, whom NHL Central Scouting labelled as a C prospect in its November ranking. "Battling off of guys and finding our guys in the slot after."


Miller, who was 10 days too young to be eligible for the 2014 draft, broke in full-time with the Greyhounds last season. He had a promising rookie year with 18 goals, but it wasn't lost on his that two-thirds of his output came before the Christmas break. That spurred him to realize that he needed to build up his aerobic capacity for the grind that is the OHL's 68-game season.

"I did a lot of work this summer, working out at ATC [Athlete Training Centre in Mississauga] with Wes Clark [the Greyhounds' director o player development]," says Miller, who played baseball and hockey as a youth. "They helped me a lot, especially with my diet. Before I wouldn't eat the healthiest food but this summer I finally, really, changed my diet. I definitely feel a lot of stronger because of all the work."

"Last year was definitely a big eye-opener, seeing how much you need to work to be ready for the season," Miller adds.

Under third-year coach Sheldon Keefe, the Hounds have had a string of forwards who play a responsible, all-around game — Brandon Alderson (now in the Los Angeles Kings system), Tyler Gaudet (Arizona Coyotes) and Jean Dupuy (recently signed by the Buffalo Sabres) — sign free-agent contracts. Another 'late birthday' forward, Michael Bunting, was also drafted in the second round last summer by the Coyotes. Miller has a chance to continue that line of succession. 

"The amount of video that he has for you is just incredible," Miller says of Keefe.

1. You have to be yourself, but which NHL player(s) do you study closely?

"I really like to watch Steven Stamkos. Just his shot is amazing and his skating ability. I watch him and just try to be like him."

2. Which teammate has done the most to help you feel comfortable in the OHL?

"I think Darnell Nurse [the Greyhounds' captain and Edmonton Oilers first-round pick]. He's a great leader and he's been through it all. He's always been good with telling me what I need to do."

3. Who is the most challenging defenceman you have faced so far in the league?

"Most challenging defenceman would probably be Travis Dermott on Erie. He is just very hard to get around. He's a very good defenceman."

4. You have to want success for yourself, but who is one person outside of your family whom your really credit for helping you reach this point?

"My minor midget coach, Geoff Schomogyi [with the Mississauga Rebels]. I was with him for probably six years, all the way up, and he just really helped me develop as a player. He just showed me a lot of things, how to work on stuff."

5. Where is your favourite road rink in the OHL?

"Favourite road rink would probably be Oshawa. Just the atmosphere and how I play there."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.