Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford popped up on The Bob McCown Podcast in Toronto on Wednesday, visiting for almost an hour with the host and co-host John Shannon.
Besides talking about developing his management staff in Vancouver, his coaching staff, and the team’s burgeoning on-ice Russian contingent, the three spoke extensively about the future of Vancouver Canucks leading scorer JT Miller. What has been previously implied by Rutherford and Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin in recent weeks, Rutherford stated directly.
“He was our best forward last year,” Rutherford stated. “He’s a very good player. He’ll be a good player for a long time. We would like to re-sign him if possible. We’re a long ways apart. I think it’ll be hard to get to a point where he’ll have a comfort level on what we’re able to do, and if if we can’t do that, then it’s the obvious, we’ll have to do the best we can to put him in a place where he’s going to get his contract and where we’re going to get the right assets back that can help the Canucks in the future.”
Rutherford stressed Miller’s strong abilities, referring to him as a ‘very, very good player’, his importance to the Vancouver Canucks and his ability to continue to be an excellent player moving forward. Although they’d like to bring Miller back, the salary cap world presents obvious challenges.
Shannon asked if there was a timeline and if Rutherford saw the chance of Miller starting the season with Vancouver.
“Well, yeah, I mean, if we don’t have him signed and nobody’s made an offer that makes sense for us, then you don’t have any other choice,” Rutherford said, “where it gets really to the pressure point is a month leading into the trade deadline. If something hasn’t been done by then, then the pressure is really on us at that point, because we really don’t want to be in a position that we don’t get anything in return.”
Rutherford referred to August as ‘quieter, but not quiet’. In other words, despite this being the slow period on the hockey calendar, the player personnel and trade options are continuously being explored. Presently back at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, Rutherford is excited to return to Vancouver and get the next preseason work started.
“I mean, I really like it in Vancouver because of the passion, the passion of the media, the passion of the fans,” Rutherford stated. “It’s just a great hockey province, and there’s great pride there. There’s frustration of course, because it’s a franchise that’s been in the league a long time and not won a Cup, but at the same time, they’ve had some good years … but the years here of late have been pretty lean. And we’ve got to get this team back to contending.”