Depending on how the rest of this road trip goes, the NHL trade chatter might increase dramatically for the Vancouver Canucks. If they distance themselves from a playoff spot it’s only going to get worse.
Speculation, rumours and theory generation are subtly three different things. At this point, any chit-chat about Brock Boeser, JT Miller, and Jaroslav Halak are the latter. Let’s look at them as individual pieces.
Boeser has a summertime qualifying offer of $7.5-million dollars headed his way as a restricted free agent. He can negotiate off that number with the Canucks or any team that might trade for him depending on term, but the likelihood is, that’s your salary-cap starting point moving forward. Is he worth it? That’s the question Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and his new general manager will be answering.
Boeser is a popular, nice guy, charitable, prince charming-type who’s only 24-years-of-age. He started slowly this season, found his confidence again under new head coach Bruce Boudreau, but has been relatively quiet on the first two games of this Canucks road trip. Then again, so has the rest of the top-six.
A consistent, young sniper is an asset every NHL team wants and covets. Will Boeser re-establish consistency? At this point it’s too early to declare a preference on whether you keep him or move him. Trade chatter here is premature. This isn’t Jim Benning trying to jolt a team back into playing well, this is Rutherford and a GM-to-be-named-later contemplating the Canucks core future.
Miller chatter is premature as well, even more so. For me it’ll remain that way. The Canucks leading scorer, a point-a-game player, is also a bargain at $5.25-million and he will be for another season. He can play any forward position and he does it while angry. He’s matured.
If they get started, let’s see where contract talks go in the summer.
Miller’s future centers around the Vancouver Canucks contemplating their window as, 1) a playoff contender, and 2) a Stanley Cup contender. Is the latter scenario a potential reality in the next, say, six years?
Damn right the Canucks better be planning for contention in the next half-dozen years and with that in mind, you want a physical, versatile scorer who leads by example.
March of 2028 is when Miller will turn 35-years-of-age while making somewhere in the ball park of $9-million-plus per season. Yes, he’s the type of player you want on a playoff team and his recent postseason bubble numbers, 18 points in 17 games, prove it.
In this case for me, save the chatter.
The player I’ve been asked about the most recently has the least long-term impact on the Canucks in every sense of the word. It’s back-up goalie Jaroslav Halak. The 36-year-old is here on a one-year $1.5-million dollar deal with easily reached incentive bonuses that double that amount.
Those bonuses could and would impact the salary cap next season.
This one’s simple for me: if Demko gets hurt or falters and you ARE a playoff contender, you ride Halak, who’s been very good by the way, into the stretch drive. Why roll the dice with an AHLer. If you’re NOT in playoff contention in a few weeks, then there might be a team that IS interested in acquiring him.
Playoff revenues would more than make him worth it if he ends up carrying the load, and he definitely wants the work. If Vancouver becomes a playoff dead end this season, he would also want the work (shed his no-move-clause) somewhere else.
There are others we could be talking about of course, including … ahem, Elias Pettersson. But that’s a separate conversation.