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Legit Metro Division Options Open to Canucks JT Miller Trade

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Vancouver Canucks, JT Miller
Vancouver Canucks centre JT Miller.

Obviously there’s no pressure at this juncture for the Vancouver Canucks to move pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) forward JT Miller. As the summer winds down, so have the rumours. Yet legitimate trade option scenarios simmer below the surface.

Prior to the NHL Draft in July, New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald told VHN the team was looking for goaltending — they went through seven netminders last season and have since added Vitek Vanecek — and for versatile grit and leadership up front. Anchored by two young pivots in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, Miller would be a welcome addition, one who would play on the wing with one of the youngsters, likely Hughes, but still take face-offs.

The Devils have a pending UFA right-shot defenceman in Damon Severson making $4.1-million for one more season. Even though the team looks to have a boatload of salary cap room for next season, the feeling is the 28-year-old is ready to mosey on. Coupled with a prospect and maybe a 1st or 2nd round draft pick swap, the Devils and Canucks might have a connection. Low 2021 1st-rounder, right wing Chase Stillman comes to mind as potentially part of a deal.

This concept addresses both teams’ needs and doesn’t force New Jersey to give up an uncompensated 1st-round pick, a potential given for other teams considering a swap with the Canucks. If the Devils are a playoff contender come March, they’d likely be chomping at the bit to add Miller as at least a rental.

Fitzgerald has made savvy late winter deals in the past that have benefited both clubs involved; Blake Coleman to Tampa Bay for a 1st-round pick and prospect Nolan Foote back in February of 2020 comes to mind. Foote’s a big left wing with six points in 13 NHL games thus far for an organization about to jump out of a rebuild. Coleman won two Stanley Cups in Tampa.

Although maybe not a priority for the Vancouver Canucks, Devils left-shot winger Jesper Bratt remains a wild card in any equation. The Swede plays both sides and apparently turned down longer term deals to sign for a single season. He’ll be a restricted free agent again and the sense is he wants to move on.

The Carolina Hurricanes are further along in the process, falling short this past playoff season with inadequate special teams, dropping games six and seven in a 2nd-round loss to the New York Rangers. This scenario is a bit more straightforward, whether it’s in trade deadline rental season or not.

Try a 1st-rounder, 23-year-old right wing Martin Necas, who clearly wants to move on and find a bigger role somewhere else, and potentially Brett Pesce on the right side of the D-corps. If it’s too much to pry Pesce loose, then Ethan Bear on the right side would be a secondary, less expensive alternative.

Hurricanes GM Don Waddell and Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford are old pals, which doesn’t hurt, and Waddell has an excellent relationship with Canucks GM Patrik Allvin as well.

While we’ve suggested the 2023 NHL trade deadline might be the next benchmark, scenarios like these could unfold at any time. Timing isn’t everything in this case, although the trade deadline potentially brings increased leverage for the Canucks if Miller is healthy. Teams want effective veteran rentals to reach the playoffs or the Cup.

Public relations, chemistry, and gate revenue would play a big part in not making a deal at that time if Vancouver is in a playoff spot. The club then runs the risk of losing the player for nothing in free agency.

Move him well in advance and avoid that quandary? Maybe, especially if the player and his agent decide to cut off contract negotiations at the start of the regular season. It’s a possibility, and there’s no question in this market that an unsigned Miller would be a distraction for everyone involved once the puck drops.

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Michael Haberlin

The Canucks are toast if they trade or do not resign their best player, JT Miller. Many of the younger guys on the team, including; Hughes, Demko, Pettersson, Podkolzin all look up to him and see (him) as the team leader. It’s so obvious. If new management cannot
get him inked long term, it’s a tremendous fail on their part. Particularly since they themselves have over spent. It’s ridiculous.

Steve

Vancouver media still has no clue what an aging jt miller is worth around the league. Good luck moving him as a rental after he sees some regression this season, the time to move him was last trade deadline

DJC

Why in the world would the Devils trade Severson and a first round pick for a rental in Miller? So they can have a cup of coffee in the playoffs? Not a chance in hell the Devils make a trade for Miller under any circumstances unless there is an extension in place. They are rebuilding. Rebuilding teams do not trade assets for “rentals”.

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