Canucks 4 Potential Trade Packages for Miller

Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames are interested in acquiring Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller. 

The Canucks are headed into an offseason where their 2020-21 points leader, Brock Boeser, will be a restricted free agent (RFA). He comes with a qualifying offer of $7.5 million, which complicates things for the team. Following Boeser, Miller and Bo Horvat are unrestricted free agents (UFA) in the 2023 offseason. Additionally, Elias Pettersson will be an RFA the following season. The club is willing to trade everyone but Pettersson, Horvat, Thatcher Demko and Quinn Hughes. Therefore, the Canucks will likely have to move one of their forwards, and the return they can get for Miller is the best.

Miller comes with a great cap hit, an average annual value of $5.250 million, which the Canucks could be willing to retain 50% of, and an additional year before he becomes a UFA. On top of that, he’s playing the best hockey of his career. This season he has 15 goals and 44 points in 44 games, which adds to his 57 goals and 162 points through 166 games over his three seasons as a Canuck. 

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun noted president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford will allow teams to make their best offers before the March 21st trade deadline. LeBrun added the Canucks will look at a deal if it has three to four assets they like. Seravalli also reported the Canucks want a little more than a first-round pick and a highly-touted prospect. 

The Canucks also have a lot of leverage in a Miller trade this season. Since the forward’s contract ends after next season, they can choose to wait until the 2022 NHL Draft to move him. This puts the team’s who are desperate to add the forward in a tough spot, where the Canucks can ask for quite a bit in return. 

New York Rangers

The most interested team in Miller is the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft, the Rangers. Miller would come in as a top-six forward and potential replacement for Ryan Strome (UFA this offseason) at centre next season. 

Young Defenceman

The Rangers could offer a promising young defenseman in a trade for Miller. Nils Lundkvist and Braden Schneider are two players the Canucks could acquire in a trade for the forward. With Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba occupying the team’s right side of their blue line, the Rangers should be open to trading at least one of the two blueliners. 

Braden Schneider New York Rangers
Braden Schneider, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Lundkvist, a 2018 first-round draft pick, stands at 5-foot-11, 187 pounds. He is a mobile defenceman and has four points in 25 games with the Rangers before he was sent to the American Hockey League (AHL) earlier in January. The Rangers are more likely to trade Lundkvist over Schneider, despite the Swede entering the season as their topic prospect. Schneider has moved up the depth chart and has slotted into a top-four slot with Fox on injured reserve. 

Sign up for our regular 'Canucks Newsletter' for all the latest.

Out of the two defencemen, Schneider seems to be the one who’d fit the Canucks’ needs. Similar to Lundkvist, he is a right-handed defenceman, except he is bigger in size at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds. In nine games with the Rangers, he has one goal and three points. Schneider is also a more defensive-oriented and physical player, which makes him a potential great fit to play alongside Quinn Hughes. Although the Canucks need more scoring from their blue line, they also need a true shutdown defender.

Kakko or Chytill

Another piece the Canucks should pick up is a young forward. The Rangers would have to include either Kaapo Kakko or Filip Chytill.

Neither player has been productive during their time in the NHL. Chytill is a .37 points per game player (P/GP) through 224 games, while Kakko has a .36 P/GP in 151 games. In a trade for either of them, the Canucks are looking at their potential. Kakko is the younger player of the two at 20 years old and has a higher upside. He was the second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The Rangers have an opportunity to make a deep run in the next few seasons, and giving up the Finnish forward could be a price they’d have to pay.

Related: Canucks Need Podkolzin & Hoglander to Produce for Playoff Push

The last piece in a trade for Miller would be the Rangers 2022 first-round pick. The Rangers are fifth in the NHL standings through 47 games, and their first-round pick should be in the 20s

Boston Bruins

The Bruins’ playoff window with their core of Patrice Bergeron, Tuuka Rask and Brad Marchand is starting to close. Therefore, the club needs to make a trade to give them an extra push in the postseason. The Bruins also need a second-line centre with David Krejci’s offseason departure. 

NBC Sports’ Nick Goss wonders if the Bruins are willing to trade Jeremy Swayman or Mason Lohrei. Since the Canucks have leverage in a trade for Miller, and the Bruins desperately need a player like Miller, the club could ask for both Swayman and Lohrei, along with their 2022 first-round pick.

Mason Lohrei Green Bay Gamblers
Mason Lohrei, Green Bay Gamblers (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

With the return of Rask and Linus Ullmark as his backup, Swayman is the odd man out this season. Therefore, Boston could be open to trading him if they are willing to go all-in on their team this season. He is only 23 years old and posted an 8-6-2 record, 2.31 goals-against average, and a .916 save percentage with the Bruins this season. The Canucks have depth in net with Thatcher Demko (26), Michael DiPietro (22) and Spencer Martin (26), who showed he can play in the NHL. Still, adding Swayman allows them to use him or DiPietro as a future trade chip, while he could be the backup behind Demko next season.

The Bruins drafted Lohrei with the 58th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Lohrei is a 6-foot-4, 194-pound left-handed defenceman who can create offence but needs to develop the defensive side of his game. He is playing in his first year at Ohio State University in the NCAA and has scored three goals and posted 24 points in 28 games.

A package of Swayman, Lohrei and a first-round pick for Miller is likely what the Bruins would offer. Jake DeBrusk is a player they could also throw in as he has been involved in trade rumors for the past two seasons. DeBrusk requested a trade in late November but is still on the team. He’s seen a dip in his production over the past two seasons. In his first three seasons with the Bruins, he either passed the 20 goal mark or was nearing it. However, in the past two seasons, he’s scored a combined 12 goals in 78 games. The Canucks could take a shot at him and hope he can regain the scoring ability he had in his first three seasons.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild have shown interest in Miller for some time now. Similar to the Bruins, Minnesota could use a top-six centre.

In November, The Province’s Ben Kuzma reported the Wild were interested in the forward and could dangle Kevin Fiala in a trade (from ‘Canuck J.T. Miller’s time might be on the line amid Wild interest,’ The Province, November 23, 2021). Trading Fiala may no longer be an option for the Wild based on his play since the original trade rumors. Over the past two months, he’s scored nine goals and posted 17 points in 17 games, which makes up his season total of 12 goals and 32 points in 40 games.

Therefore, the Canucks will have to look at other pieces along with the Wild’s 2022 first-round pick. Kuzma listed Jordan Greenway as another edition to the trade. Although Greenway offers size, he isn’t enough in return for Miller. However, he could be added in as an additional piece surrounding a few prospects and the team’s first-round pick.

Jordan Greenway Minnesota Wild
Jordan Greenway, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As for prospects, Calen Addison should be a player the Wild add in a trade for Miller. Addison was their top defensive prospect heading into the season. He has played nine games for the club this season, scoring two goals and posting three points. He stands at 5-foot-11, 173 pounds and is a right-handed defenceman. Although the Canucks will likely prefer a bigger defenceman, his skill and potential would be a big addition to the blue line.

The Wild would also have to part with another prospect in Adam Beckman. Minnesota selected the forward with their third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Beckman is a smart player with a dangerous release and play-making ability. THW’s Aaron Heckmann notes he has the tools to be a middle-six winger in the NHL, but his ceiling could be even higher.

A deal with Addison, Greenway, Beckman and a 2021 first-round pick is interesting. The Canucks get two young players, a depth player with size and a top draft pick. Still, it is tough seeing the Canucks accepting this trade compared to some of the other potential deals.

Calgary Flames

The Flames are the least likely team to acquire Miller from the Canucks. The division rivals do need more scoring in their lineup. Only four players have scored 10+ goals in Matthew Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. Three of the four (Tkachuk, Gaudreau and Lindholm) play on the team’s first line. The Flames need secondary scoring, and Miller would add that. 

Related: 7 Canucks That Could Be Moved Before the Trade Deadline

The Flames could offer the Canucks a first-round pick, Jakob Pelletier and Juuso Valimaki. Pelletier was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Flames. He has been impressive in the AHL with the Stockton Heat, scoring 12 goals and posting 33 points in 34 games. The forward would be a great offensive weapon for the Canucks to add along with Valimaki, who has had a tough time cracking the club’s lineup. The defenceman has played eight games with the Flames this season while playing 11 with the Heat in the AHL. At 23 years old, he seems to need an opportunity to crack an NHL lineup and could do that with the Canucks as their third left defenceman slot is still up for grabs. 

Rangers Have the Most to Offer

The Rangers have the most to offer out of the four clubs. Not only are they the most eager team to acquire Miller, but they also have the most to offer. They can offer a potential top-four right-handed defenceman in Schneider, a former second overall pick, who is yet to break out in Kakko and their first-round pick, which should be in the 20s. The Canucks are getting two young players with NHL experience, which is helpful to a team that is attempting a retool.

J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks
J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for Boston, they will need to make a trade for what could be their last chance to win with their current core group. The package of Swayman, Lohrei, DeBrusk and a first is pretty impressive, but the Canucks aren’t desperate for a goalie prospect.

The Wild and the Flames have the least chances of acquiring Miller as Western Conference teams. The Wild would need to throw in Marco Rossi or Matthew Boldy to increase their chances, which they aren’t very likely to do. It is unlikely the Flames offer more than Pelletier, Valamaki and a first since they are division rivals. The Canucks are less likely to accept an offer from Calgary unless it blows them away.

Rutherford will likely take his time before moving Miler, which could mean the president and his new general manager Patrik Allvin wait until the offseason to pull the trigger. A Miller trade isn’t guaranteed either. The Canucks are going to evaluate where they see their club in two years when the forward’s contract expires and if he will still have a role with the team at that point.