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Should Canucks Trade for J.T. Miller Amid NHL Rumors?

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured Columnist IJune 29, 2022

Jeff Vinnick

With the 2022 NHL draft less than two weeks away, teams around the league are beginning to focus their energies on moves to improve their rosters and that always includes trades.

And the Vancouver Canucks, in particular, have to figure out what they are going to do when it comes to their high-profile trade target, J.T. Miller.

Will they keep him or make a deal? Right now, all signs are pointing to the latter.

According to The Athletic's Rick Dhaliwal, the Canucks have been listening to offers on their star left winger for a while now.

"The Canucks have made teams aware they’re listening to offers on J.T. Miller," Dhaliwal said on the Donnie and Dhali - The Team show. "I got to the Miller camp this morning and they are not surprised, folks, that these reports, the Canucks are listening on Miller.

"In fact, one source told me today the Canucks have been listening to teams about Miller since February ... That’s five months ago. So, clearly it tells me the two sides are far apart on Miller; his worth on a new deal."

Vancouver has missed the playoffs the past two seasons, so the Canucks fans presumably won't be happy that their team is planning on moving a player who just logged a career-best 99 points this past season, especially since he has one year left on his deal.

But here's the rub: When players have the kind of year Miller just had, they want to cash in and get long-term deals.

If Vancouver doesn't pay the 29-year-old now, he'll walk in free agency next offseason for nothing.

Ryan Johnson, who was recently promoted to assistant to general manager Patrik Alvin, shared what his boss is thinking.

"At this point you’ve got to look at all options," told Donnie and Dhali. "Right now he’s a Vancouver Canuck and we prepare as if he is, but obviously there's discussions being had that obviously, now as the draft approaching, we've always got to look at options to make yourself a better team in the short term and the long term and that's a process Patrick is going through with all our players.

"We need to push ourselves to get a little uncomfortable to get better. We want to get better and this isn't a reference to J.T. Miller, but sometimes you got to make hard decisions as an organization to do that."

Right now, Miller is a bargain at the $5.25 million he's owed next season, but to keep him, the Canucks will need to give him a raise that pushes him into the $8.5 million to $9 million range on an extension.

But since Vancouver has been fielding offers on Miller for almost half a year, it must not be willing to pay market rate for a player who racked up 99 points.

So that means the alternate captain's tenure with the team could be nearing its conclusion.

The question is, though, should it be?

As far as the front office is concerned, clearing cap space is crucial to the rebuilding process, but if they could re-sign their star for a reasonable price, it makes all the sense in the world to retain him to be competitive and find a way to make the playoffs.

Vancouver has only made the postseason twice in the last nine years, so the fanbase is likely past its breaking point with the team's lack of success.

With that in mind, it may not be prudent for the front office to move its best player.

As Alvin said, though, tough decisions have to be made and there's precious little time before free agency begins on July 13.

If Vancouver keeps him, it's not going to be cheap, but Miller's production and grit is worth it.

Should the Canucks decide to move him, there are a number of teams willing to make their move.

According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, the Washington Capitals are one of them.

"Miller, I still think that it's a big contract that he's asking for," he told Donnie and Dhali. "I think the Canucks like other teams are worried about the term for him. I think now that Washington has lost {Nicklas} Backstrom and no one seems to know what the timeline here is, what are they gonna do?

"I've heard Kadri's name connected to the Capitals, I've heard Miller's name connected to the Capitals, so I wouldn't be surprised if he's the kind of guy that's on their radar."

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