While on Sportsnet 650, NHL insider Frank Seravalli noted that the Boston Bruins are one of the teams interested in Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller. This is exciting to see, as he has the potential to be a spectacular addition to the Bruins. This is the case for a number of different reasons, and due to this, it’s a no-brainer that they should seriously pursue the 28-year-old forward.
Seravalli: “The other three teams that I’ve heard that have been interested in JT Miller are the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, and Calgary Flames.” #Canucks— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) January 25, 2022
At this juncture of the season, the Canucks have a 20-19-6 record and have won just four out of their last 10 contests. With their new management, they are expected to make changes, as president of hockey ops Jim Rutherford wants to shed salary. Miller’s name has been the most talked-about from them in the rumor mill. Although he shouldn’t be the Bruins’ lone trade target this deadline season, he arguably may be the most appealing out of the bunch. Thus, in my opinion, he’s the player they need to be all in for. Let’s dive into why.
Miller Would Fix Bruins’ Second-Line Center Problem
When the Bruins lost David Krejci during the offseason, it left a massive hole at the second-line center position. Although they signed centers Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek, neither of them were viewed as legitimate replacements for the longtime Bruin. As a result of this, they went into the season with Charlie Coyle as their 2C. This certainly was questionable from the start, as the 29-year-old had just 16 points in 51 games last season.
Coyle has had a nice bounce-back year since but also is now once again on the third line. With this, Haula has jumped up to the second line and has played well between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. However, if the Bruins truly want to get past their extremely hard division rivals in the postseason, he does not appear to be a long-term option. However, a player like Miller would offer them a true solution for this ongoing issue. Truthfully, he’s playing like a legitimate first-liner, as his 44 points in 43 games show perfectly. Those numbers could easily improve even further if on a line with Hall and Pastrnak, too. They would easily become the best second lines in the sport.
Miller Offers Great Versatility
Although Miller would be an immediate fit for the Bruins’ 2C position, he would be able to offer more than that, too. He’s one of those wonderful players who are capable of playing all three forward positions. Although they certainly wouldn’t need him to play left wing when looking at their depth, he could also be an option at right wing. After Pastrnak, the scoring at that position has been immensely underwhelming. Thus, if needed, he could replace Craig Smith in the top six, too.
It’s always good when a player can be switched around the lineup with ease. When it comes to Miller, he also offers the ability to be utilized on not only the power play but also the penalty kill as well. Therefore, no matter what situations occur in a game, he is always able to assist the team through them. Sometimes his excellent skill level makes fans gloss over this equally important aspect about him.
Miller’s More Than a Rental
Although other second-line center options like Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, or Claude Giroux would be awesome to acquire, they each would likely be just rentals. Each of them has the chance to hit the market as unrestricted free agents this summer, so there’s no guarantee that they would be back next season. However, Miller is locked up until the completion of the 2022-23 season with an affordable $5.25 million cap hit.
When looking at how often Miller contributes on the scoresheet, that cap hit for more than just this season can honestly be deemed as a steal. Furthermore, with Patrice Bergeron not willing to start extension talks with the team until after the season, it would be wise to have another top-of-the-line center locked up. This is especially true if the longtime Bruin decides to retire or shockingly sign elsewhere.
Bruins Owe it to Their Veterans
The Stanley Cup window is starting to close for the Bruins. One could even argue it already has when looking at their current roster. Just three players remain from their 2011 Stanley Cup championship roster. Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask are not getting any younger, and it would be nice to see the organization aim to build a strong enough roster to help them win a second. Adding a player like Miller should certainly help their chances of going on a long playoff run.
This should be a deadline season where the Bruins are very active. Although they have a 25-14-3 record, there are some issues with this team that would be wise to address. The chances to win again with their core just do not seem very high at this juncture. Ultimately, fixing the second-line center position with a player like Miller is a necessity, but time will tell if general manager Don Sweeney decides to pull off a big move like this. Truthfully, they also could use a top-pairing left-handed defenseman and middle-six winger, but they probably do not have the assets to fix all of these needs at once.
Alas, if the Bruins were to land Miller, it would be wonderful to see for all of these reasons. It’s encouraging to hear that they are in the sweepstakes, but that is just the beginning of things. Although landing him would cost them a lot, it’s an avenue worth considering, at least. With the deadline now just a month away, we shall see what ends up occurring on this front shortly.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.