Thus the quandary. The Canucks need to make a decision on JT Miller. Right now it’s sign him, trade him, or wait and see what happens as the season progresses and make a decision in March. The problem with that last option is the fact that they’re very likely a Western Conference playoff team with a healthy Miller on board. Is it worth it to wait for increased trade leverage at the deadline if it only means potentially pulling a player out of a postseason line-up? Eek!!
Even with the roster adjustments we’d all like to see along the blueline, the Canucks were a solid team defensively at five-on-five last season particularly once the whole program stabilized under head coach Bruce Boudreau. The killer last October and November that buried the season was the penalty kill. The power play also took a little while to come around.
Now the offence is somewhat stacked, particularly where it matters most, up the middle. How would it look without Miller, with Elias Pettersson one and Bo Horvat two, with Miller-obtained assets spread elsewhere throughout the line-up. Arguably still a playoff team.
Therefore it’s imperative to make a decision in the next six weeks. The Canucks can avoid the disappointment and fan recoil if they’re forced to move him at the deadline or lose him in the summer. The player and his agent haven’t decided yet if contract negotiations will be cut-off at the start of the regular season, to avoid the inevitable questions and distractions, and if that does happen the club is setting itself up for trouble.
Set your roster, whether it’s with Miller or not, and begin your playoff run with the salary re-structure and roster framework you plan to move forward with.
If the team really wants to wait and see more from Miller this season before making a decision, then it’s essentially flying in the face of its stated goal of not committing long-term to players outside of their core twenty-something range, while also trying to find some balance and cost certainty in their salary cap.
So why wait? VHN pointed to Hockey Hall of Fame executive Lou Lamoriello’s statement “if you have time, use it”, but in this case, it begs the question, “what’s the point?”
If the Canucks can get to the postseason without Miller, the fans will soon forget, and life goes on with a new roster reality. If you don’t make it in, you’ve established and stuck to your plan.
Pick your (potentially positive) poison and drink.