Vancouver Canucks centre JT Miller is once again the talk of the town after appearing on John Scott’s “Dropping the Gloves” podcast on hockeyfights.com before the weekend, stating he wants to stay in Vancouver, but he’s not sure it’s gonna happen. Miller re-iterated some of the thoughts he shared during last season.
“I’ve said from day one, I want to there, I want to be a part of this because I recognize everything you just said, when you do your predictions how this team has everything it needs, and I recognize that and I want to be there,” Miller said. “That being said, if it’s not meant to be, I understand that too. Trust me, I’d like to have a deal done in Vancouver and be there, but I have to respect everybody’s vision and if it doesn’t line up, it kind of is-what-it-is.”
Scott, as in that John Scott, the NHL veteran enforcer turned fan-vote NHL All-Star for the Canadiens organization in 2016, wondered aloud how Miller wasn’t re-signed by now, given all of his talents and attributes. Scott lauded Millers stats and abilities.
Although appreciative of the compliments, Miller empathized with Vancouver Canucks management.
“It’s a new fit for our management, it’s new for us,” Miller stated. “They were there for three months, so they don’t know, there’s a lot going on, they have a lot of decisions to make on a lot of players, and so far to this point, with negotiations, it just, we’re not as close as we want to be.”
It’s a point VHN brought up following a conversation with Miller’s agent Brian Bartlett almost a month ago.
Meanwhile, Miller credits his 99 point season to simple opportunity, getting 21-minutes a night with highly skilled players while playing top-line centre, a position he prefers over left wing where he spent much of his early career. He was very complimentary of both Elias Pettersson and young Russian forward Vasily Podkolzin.
“As a winger, I’m very good on the forecheck I think because I can time the break-outs and get more speed built up and get in position to get the puck later down the ice,” he said. “But I like having the puck, I want it on my stick the whole game, I think a lot of good players will tell you the same thing, and as a centreman, I really like having the puck in my own end and dispersing it on break-outs. I like talking with our defenceman, I think talking in the NHL is a lost art these days.
“As a centre, I understand the responsibility that comes with the defensive end and that’s a part I push myself to be a little better,” Miller said.
Miller described his summer skating regimen in his off-season home in Pittsburgh, training with the likes of centre Vince Trocheck, who recently signed with the New York Rangers, his neighbour Brandon Saad of the St. Louis Blues, and Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson.
“All of us guys are pretty much within a year or two of each other, the local pros in Pittsburgh, we were drafted around the same draft class,” Miller said, “so it’s a perfect group, we’re still pushing each other and we understand it, we’ve been doing this, almost all of us in our tenth or eleventh year already, which is crazy.”
And therein lies the rub when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks signing or not signing the 29-year-old. Can he play up to his potential over the length of a long-term contract as he moves into his mid-30’s. And does the franchise want to commit to an annual salary number in the $9-million range.
“I want to be in Vancouver, that’s all I can tell you,” Miller emphasized. “But at the same time it’s a business from my side and their side and I think they understand that and I understand that too.”