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Pros, Cons of a Canucks JT Miller Trade to Devils for the Top-5 Pick

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Vancouver Canucks, JT Miller
Vancouver Canucks forward JT Miller.

It would likely make perfect sense for the Vancouver Canucks to trade JT Miller to the New Jersey Devils for that team’s upcoming top-5 pick in the NHL Draft depending on who and what else were coming back. Unfortunately it likely wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Devils.

But it does signify the type of deal the Canucks could make and the bounty that should be available should they decide to move their 29-year-old leading scorer after a 99-point season.

At least hypothetical talks would be amiable, since New Jersey Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald worked for Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford when the two were together in Pittsburgh for a year. “Fitzy” was “J.R.’s” assistant general manager with the Penguins from the summer of 2014 to the summer of 2015 before moving on to Newark.

In case you missed it, Fitzgerald came out on Thursday and announced that his 2022 first round pick, presently 5th overall heading into the NHL Draft Lottery, was available for a deal.

The first hurdle will be beating out the number of NHL teams that will very likely be showing an interest.

Canucks Pro’s and Con’s

The Vancouver Canucks could expect in return that high first round pick, maybe one of the three 2022 4th-round picks that the Devils hold, and an existing roster player, and/or one of the handful of high-pick forward prospects the organization is developing. It wouldn’t include 18-year-old, 2021 4th-overall pick, left-shot defenceman Luke Hughes, brother of Quinn of the Canucks and Jack of the Devils, nor should it.

The Devils also have right wing Alexander Holtz, 7th-overall in 2020, right wing Dawson Mercer, 18th-overall in 2020, and Chase Stillman, 29th-overall in 2021. Hmmm, right wing you say. Holtz is considered the club’s top prospect along with Hughes and probably wouldn’t be coming along. Neither would Mercer, considering the 20-year-old just banged out a 17-goal and 42-point rookie NHL season. There are other options.

Regardless of the bounty specifics, the Vancouver Canucks would immediately be getting substantially younger and knocking what is presently $5.25-million and would eventually be $9-million-plus off their annual books should Miller be re-signed for 2023-’24 and beyond.

We almost get a sense from Rutherford this week that that’s not going to happen.

“We’ve got some work to do here, we’ve got a number of players to add,” Rutherford said on Tuesday. “We’d like to stay with our same plan, we add players, keep them in their mid-20’s or younger so the team can come together in the next year or two.” Older players Rutherford referenced were inexpensive, the type you pick up a couple of weeks into free agency.

The Canucks would lose their leading scorer who would be playing at a discount for a season. The “wait-and-see and trade Miller at the deadline” scenario would be gone. So would a whole lot of competitiveness, talent, drive, and experience.

In the case of both teams, it really comes down to whether or not Miller is their ‘cup of tea’ for the long run. He’ll be 30 next March.

Devils Pro’s and Con’s

Maybe hold those notes for other Vancouver Canucks trade scenarios because the Devils probably aren’t the fit. Although the price wouldn’t kill them based on their plethora of youth, the return for the Devils wouldn’t necessarily be what they’re looking for.

They’re already knocking $9-million off their books this summer with the presumed departure of UFA defenceman PK Subban, why would they want to put it right back on essentially with another player who can be a handful in a different way.

Because for all of Miller’s positive traits, he can also be bossy and he can also be ‘pissy’, which occasionally affects his decision making on ice.

Age 29 is a good age for experience and savvy but 29 is also unappealing to the Devils for the same reasons it’s potentially unappealing to the Canucks, especially when NJ has a 23-year-old Swiss captain named Nico Hischier.

The Devils will also be adding $8-million to the salary cap this year in aforementioned star forward Jack Hughes’s new deal.

It kind of sounds like the Devils have that ’20-something thing’ that Rutherford was talking about, other than the fact they’re short defencemen and their goaltending situation is atrocious. There’s your Devils priorities.

They’re loaded with speed up front and they have four young RFA’s to sign in Pavel Zacha, Jesper Bratt, Miles Wood, and Jesper Boqvist should they choose. More options.

The Vancouver Canucks trading Miller this past season made no sense. Trading him this summer does, whether it’s a deal with the Devils or not.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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headbangerharry

Excellent thought process here Simmer! As an expat I did not know the news about the Devils! Thanks for sharing!

Makes sense to me to move him at his peak. If he does get moved this summer let’s hope it is sooner rather than later so Canuck nation can calm down before training camp starts!

Sam D

Miller plus Spencer Martin for 1st 2nd 3d plus roster player. NJ needs a goalie badly

Dave

JT will probably command 9+ million per… on his next contract… I can’t see Canucks and Miller getting a contract that suits both parties. There definitely will be suitors for Miller… especially if NYR falters in the 1st round… Personally I’d like to sell high with Miller… get the picks and assets he’s going to garner and then offer sheet Fiala… Fiala does all the same things JT brings and he’s 4 years younger… If the Canucks don’t turn every stone when it comes to player assets and model the team for the future we’re going to be spinning our wheels for the next decade… sounds like Vancouver hockey that I am used to…

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