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Canucks in Talks with New Jersey Devils, J.T. Miller Limited

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Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils
General Managers Patrik Allvin of the Vancouver Canucks and Tom Fitzgerald of the New Jersey Devils.

New Jersey Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald told Vancouver Hockey Now on Saturday that he speaks with Vancouver Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin on a pretty regular basis, but trade talks are not necessarily the gist.

The two are friends from their days working together with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Fitzgerald as the director of player development and then assistant general manager at a time when Allvin was a scout and then head of European scouting. They often talk about the NHL in general and potential ways to improve their hockey clubs.

No deal is imminent nor should one assume there will be any type of transaction between the two organizations.

A handful of NHL teams have inquired about the Devils 2nd-overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, a selection Fitzgerald reiterates is available should the absolute right deal come along.

“We need some sandpaper to go with our speed,” Fitzgerald said.

The Devils have speed to burn up front, but they’re very young as a whole. They’re looking for added grit, physicality and veteran leadership.

Sounds like J.T. Miller.

Fitzgerald can’t comment on a specific player, but in describing his club’s needs and budget desires, they match those of many NHL teams. The grit and leadership combination is one thing, but for how much and for how long?

Miller is due a whopping contract after his current deal ends after 2022-’23, just after he turns age-30 in March. An NHL club has to weigh Miller’s obvious attributes, heart, compete, and ability, versus the potential longevity of his effectiveness over the course of an expensive long-term deal.

“Fitzy” could probably find some of those attributes for a smaller price tag. The Devils will also regain the services of Miles Wood¬†who’s coming off hip surgery; a versatile, gritty player with some limited scoring upside.

Grit discussions aside, the New Jersey Devils top priority would be goaltending. They went through seven netminders last season due to injury, attrition and ineffectiveness. 25-year-old MacKenzie Blackwood could and should be the answer, but he took the slow road back from Covid recovery.

As much as the Devils can counter-attack and score with proficiency, it doesn’t matter if they can’t keep the puck out of their own net.

Two ways to turn it around; with solid goaltending and strong, team-oriented defensive play. Those are the two priorities this off-season for the New Jersey Devils, and the Vancouver Canucks likely aren’t providing the answer.

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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