Trade chatter surrounding Vancouver Canucks center JT Miller has been active throughout this past season, and now it appears to have picked up steam.
The New Jersey Devils have come up because of their inviting 2nd-overall NHL Draft pick that is available for the right price, the Washington Capitals have come up because of the uncertainty of center Nicklas Backstrom’s health, and the Pittsburgh Penguins appear to be in the mix due to their plans, or lack thereof, for longtime star Evgeni Malkin.
All three teams could use JT Miller, particularly the latter two if the negative scenarios there play out.
The underlying issue for the Vancouver Canucks in re-signing Miller, and for other teams potentially acquiring him, is his age versus the term of his next contract. Miller turns age-30 next March while his next deal, expected to be in the $8 to $9-million dollar range per season, wouldn’t kick in until the fall of 2023. The Vancouver Canucks leading scorer this past season with 99 points, Miller is presently making a very affordable $5.25-million for one more year.
Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald implied what others have, that although Miller might fit certain needs, the length of his next contract supersedes the actual expense. It would seem teams, including the Vancouver Canucks, would happily hop on a chance to sign the versatile competitor if the term was limited to five or six seasons.
As the incumbents, only the Canucks are allowed to offer Miller up to eight years. He’d love the security, the team not so much.
As for trade scenarios, naturally one must explore what might be coming back.
Aside from the fact Washington would have to shed some salary cap in return, they have an affordable right winger in Conor Sheary, whom the Vancouver Canucks brass is all too familiar with from their days together in Pittsburgh. Sheary was a key cog in the two Stanley Cup victories in 2016 and 2017. Besides having the requisite one ‘n’ in Conor, he’s only making $1.5-million for one more season and produced a tidy 43-point season this last one.
The Capitals also have right-shot defence prospect and Coquitlam native Vincent Iorio in their ranks, a 19-year-old starting an entry-level deal.
While the Capitals have the 20th-overall draft pick to play with, the Pittsburgh Penguins presently select one pick later at number-21.
Clearly the Penguins situation is all too familiar to Canucks GM Patrik Allvin and President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford. Right shot D-man John Marino and his existing long-term deal at $4.4-million per season for another five years would be inviting. He’s 25-years-old.
Otherwise the D-depth prospect-wise for Pittsburgh is thin. Up front, right wing Kasperi Kapanen is a restricted free agent (RFA) with arbitration rights this summer. The Canucks front office would instantly be able to tell you whether they’d want him or not. Mental make-up being the key in this case, as he’s yet to live up to his potential.