Kind of along the same lines of not giving head coach Bruce Boudreau a new contract until he coaches a full season here, Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and General Manager Patrik Allvin have no reason not to wait and see what JT Miller has to offer coming off his career best season.
Again, barring an offer they can’t refuse from an anxious NHL club, here’s three reasons why you don’t trade Miller until you feel it’s absolutely needed. Like at next season’s trade deadline for example.
Stating the obvious for the antsy among us; it’s not hurting you having him here.
What’s the point of being impatient with a player who might lead your team in scoring again, who’s playing at a discount for one more season at $5.250-million, and will be trying to prove himself again in a contract year. By the time late February or early March 2023 roles around, the Canucks coaches and management will only have a stronger sense of what they potentially have in the player moving forward, and can act accordingly.
This obviously means you’re not signing him this summer either.
The first of two caveats to this argument is the age factor. If the Vancouver Canucks truly believe that there’s no chance in Hades that they’re going to want to sign a 30-year-old player to even a five or a six-year contract, then all bets are off and logic goes out the window. Move him.
That’s a pretty bold commitment to cynicism and hockey’s version of age discrimination.
I would prefer to believe that Mr. Rutherford will play the moderately long game if he can and if it makes the most sense. Right now that appears to be the case.
I’m only moderately trying to ignore conversations with a couple of NHL general managers who at the moment believe the Vancouver Canucks are trying to sign the player. I’m not sure I’d go that far.
The other caveat is the fine line that develops in a contract year.
Play ‘wait and see’ with negotiations and it’s the player who might get antsy. The unknown future factor could become a distraction, not only for Miller, but also in the dressing room depending on how he handles it emotionally.
We’ve seen he’s an emotional guy. But again, it is a contract year. For veterans entering their third NHL deal, those seasons tend to be very productive ones. Just ask the Nashville Predators, who are in danger of losing Filip Forsberg for nothing. He’s coming off a 42-goal and 84-point season with an expiring contract. Contentious negotiations dragged on for too long and now it appears he may cash-in elsewhere.
The Calgary Flames might be in a similar boat. Free agent-to-be Johnny Gaudreau turns 29 in August. He’s still around because the club apparently loves him, but also because they had no choice. The Flames considered themselves Cup contenders, they weren’t moving anybody. Plus, they were pretty confident they would sign him.
Deadline past. The playoff aspirations fell short. Now Johnny holds all the cards.
Oh gee, whatayaknow, he’s coming off a career year too.
Very unlikely Cup contenders next season, the Vancouver Canucks won’t be forced into anything. They can evaluate and move in the direction of their choosing.
The Canucks might approach the Miller scenario the same way they handled Boudreau. It’s not “what have you done for me lately,” it’s “Let’s see what you’ve got.”