As we inch closer and closer to the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal, trade rumors and speculation have started to ramp up. Now that Brock Boeser has been re-signed, the J.T. Miller trade train has increased its speed to dangerous levels.
Will the Vancouver Canucks decide to trade him before the first round ends on July 7, or wait until they are deeper into the offseason? We will have an answer to that question in just a couple of days.
Speaking on Canucks Central with Dan Riccio and Sat Shah, NHL insider Frank Seravalli mentioned that both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are two teams to keep a close eye on in the coming days of what’s become the “J.T. Miller Watch”. So, in the spirit of that, let’s take a look at a couple of potential packages from both teams that could entice Patrik Allvin and company to pull the trigger on a trade that has been discussed ad nauseam over the last few months.
New York Rangers Trade Package
The Rangers were also a team circling the wagons when Miller was on the market at last year’s trade deadline. Apparently, the deal was for Nils Lundqvist, Filip Chytil and a first-round pick. Ultimately, that never got done and they had to settle for Tyler Motte as their only acquisition from the Canucks. Now that the offseason and 2022 Draft have come around, they appear to be revisiting those discussions once again.
This time, however, would they be willing to replace Lundqvist with Braden Schneider, the 6-foot-2 right-hander who was selected 19th overall by the Rangers during the 2020 Draft?
Facing the prospect of losing Andrew Copp and Ryan Strome to free agency, the Rangers will need a second-line center to slot in behind superstar Mika Zibanejad if they hope to contend for a Stanley Cup. They clearly got shut down in the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, so they might be searching for a more powerful solution than simply re-signing Copp or Strome to fill that role.
As for Schneider, he is coming off a rookie season where he put up two goals and 11 points in 43 games and although he played sparingly, he still blocked 52 shots and threw 60 hits. Lauded for his supreme two-way game, mobility and tremendous gap control when he was drafted back in 2020, he certainly appears to be the perfect partner for the dynamic defender that is Quinn Hughes. The Canucks are in desperate need of elite right-handed defenders, especially young ones, so he also fits the bill there as he’s only 20 years old.
Judging by the trade packages being rumored out there, the Canucks are clearly not going to be satisfied with just a return of Schneider in this deal. The Rangers might have to throw in 22-year-old Filip Chytil too. While he might not have been the sexiest of assets at the trade deadline, he sure is now, especially after the performance he had in the playoffs. With seven goals and nine points in 20 games after only eight goals and 22 points during the regular season, he might be primed for a breakout in 2022-23.
Similar to Bratt, Chytil would bring more speed to the Canucks lineup. Though unlike him, he would add size to the equation as well. At 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, he is difficult to contain when he gets up to his top speed. He is also tough to knock off the puck and possesses a high hockey IQ and strong work ethic.
New Jersey Devils Trade Package
2nd Overall Pick in 2022
Since the Devils made it known that they were willing to listen to offers on their second-overall pick, I’m sure every team has given general manager Tom Fitzgerald a call. The Canucks, who were reportedly in discussions with them at the trade deadline, would love to get their hands on this pick to bolster their prospect pool. The last time they held a selection this high in the draft was back in 1999 when they drafted Daniel Sedin, who eventually became a top-line winger and is now the franchise’s all-time leader in goals scored.
If the Canucks can come away with another Daniel, they will be ecstatic. Whether it is Logan Cooley, Shane Wright or one of the top blueliners in Simon Nemec or David Jiricek, a franchise player will have been added to a team desperate for a boost to their farm system. If they can do this trade without giving up their 15th overall pick, that will make up for the two years they were without a first-rounder in 2020 and 2021.
Jesper Bratt had a breakout season last year with the Devils, scoring a career-high 26 goals and 73 points in 76 games along with six game-winners. Patrik Allvin is likely very familiar with the speedy Swede as he was Director of European Scouting with the Pittsburgh Penguins when he was selected by the Devils 162nd overall in 2016 out of AIK in the HockeyAllsvenskan. In other words, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks asked for him in addition to the second-overall pick.
The 23-year-old Stockholm native isn’t necessarily a sure thing to repeat his breakout season, but he’s got a lot more runway to do so than Miller. He also will add that much-needed speed Allvin and Jim Rutherford have been talking about since they took over the team from Jim Benning. Not to mention, he should be cheaper to re-sign as a restricted free agent. Having said all that, asking for both the second-overall pick and Bratt might be too much, so I will concede that it could be one or the other in the end. Although, if the former isn’t involved, a first-round pick in 2023 should still be added to the mix along with him.
Verdict: Rangers’ Trade Package
It’s tough, but if I was Allvin and the Canucks, I would go with the Rangers’ offering solely because it contains a blue-chip right-handed defenceman in Schneider that is a proven commodity in the NHL. His addition would also likely end the search for a long-term partner for Hughes, which is a big win in my opinion. Then with Chytil, the forward group gets stronger and faster and there is still potential for him to turn into a consistent top-six threat being only 22 years old.
Related: THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide
While it might be enticing to grab the second-overall pick and rush to select Nemec or Cooley, a package involving Schneider and Chytil (or even Kaapo Kakko) makes the Canucks better now, especially on defence. Yes, Nemec could jump into the NHL and play next season, but that’s not a guarantee. The same goes for Cooley or even Wright for that matter. As much as I love both of them as prospects, adding Chytil and Schneider is the better bet, especially if Allvin wants to create a Stanley Cup contender in the window of Hughes and Elias Pettersson’s prime years.
Miller Saga Could Be Ending Soon
With the Canucks taking one final swing at a contract extension before the NHL Draft on Thursday, the end of this drama of “will they, won’t they” should be coming to an end soon. Even though there’s really no rush with Miller holding one more year on his contract, it appears management wants to either get an extension or trade done before they get too far into the offseason. Considering the craziness of the draft floor with all 32 of the league’s GMs in one room for a few hours, they should capitalize on this opportunity and get the best return possible for a veteran that might have completed his one and only 99-point season in the NHL.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.