In the newest edition of Vancouver Canucks’ News & Rumors, the Minnesota Wild has shown interest in J.T. Miller, while Brock Boeser is reportedly back on the trading block. Additionally, Vasily Podkolzin has earned more playing time through the first 19 games.
Wild Interested in Miller
According to The Province’s Ben Kuzma, the Wild have called the Canucks about Miller (from ‘Canuck J.T. Miller’s time might be on the line amid Wild interest,’ The Province, November 23, 2021). Kuzma adds the Canucks are a wounded team and may be willing to part with one of their top players if the return is right. This lines up with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman report when he joined Donnie And Dhali on Monday and discussed the Canucks’ recent meetings. Friedman noted there is a feeling that something is going to happen if the team continues to struggle in the next few weeks, which could be a trade.
In return for Miller, Kuzma suggests the Wild could offer 25-year-old Kevin Fiala, who is in the final season of his contract with a $5.25 million cap hit. He also discussed Jordan Greenway as a target, but the forward comes with a $2.1 million cap hit, making him too expensive for the club. Kuzma also notes the Canucks are searching for a top pick as the team gave up their 2022 second-round pick in their trade with the Arizona Coyotes for Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The Canucks acquired Miller in the 2019 offseason with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He made an immediate impact by leading the team in points with 71 in the 2019-20 season. Additionally, he leads the team with 49 goals and 137 points through 141 games since joining the team. He has two seasons remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.25 million.
General manager Jim Benning has to make sure the Canucks are getting equal value in a trade for Miller. The forward comes with a great contract and is productive. If the Canucks can add Fiala, a high draft pick and another valuable piece, a trade for Miller could work out.
Boeser on Trading Block
VancouverHockeyNow’s Rob Simpson reported trade talks around Boeser have heated up. Simpson adds Boeser’s name has been out there since the off-season, but talks have heated up in recent days. The winger has struggled this season, posting four goals and eight points through 16 games. He has been pointless in the last six games and has posted a minus-4.
Simpson pointed out Elias Pettersson wouldn’t be happy if a Boeser trade were to happen. Similar to Pettersson, a majority of the fan base wouldn’t be happy either. Boeser led the team in goals (23) and points (49) through 56 games last season. Trading him for having a slow start wouldn’t be smart since he’s only 24 years old and has proven he can be productive. Additionally, his agent Ben Hankinson noted he doesn’t believe the forward will be traded
Canucks Could Add President
Rick Dhaliwal joined Sekeres and Price to discuss the Canucks and their front office. Dhaliwal suggested if the franchise doesn’t want to fire Benning, they could add a president of hockey operations.
The Canucks lost 1-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, bringing their record to 6-11-2. The club’s owners held two meetings last week, one between the Aquilini family on Monday and another with Benning. Many believe it is time for the team to move on from Benning and head coach Travis Green. Adding a president of hockey with long-time experience could be an option for the team’s owners since it seems as if they don’t want to fire the general manager.
Podkolozin Continues to Develop
One of the few positives of the Canucks season so far is the development of Podkolzin. The rookie entered the season with a lot of hype as the team’s top prospect and has received more responsibility as the season has progressed.
His minutes have increased as he has seen some time on the power play and protecting a lead late in a game(from ‘Canucks notebook: Podkolzin’s rapid rise rewarded with special-team considerations’ The Province, November 21, 2021). Green stated the rookie could play on the team’s penalty kill (PK).
“I do think he’s got capabilities of that,” Green said Sunday. “We’ve thrown a lot at him, but as his foot speed increases, he has good down-ice speed and good pressure and pays attention. We can definitely see that (PK) out of him. He takes all parts of the game seriously and wants to get better in every area — wall work and getting pucks out of his own zone, back checking and stopping, just little things that go a long way into winning games.”
The Canucks are already owners of the league-worst PK, therefore, adding the Russian forward to the PK unit is worth the shot. His development through his first 19 games has been impressive and provides some hope for the team’s future. He has scored three goals and has posted four points through 17 games.
Hamonic Away for Road Trip
The Canucks sent Travis Hamonic to Abbotsford before the team’s U.S. road trip. The defenceman isn’t considered a fully vaccinated player under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols. Hamonic has received his second dose of the vaccine but will have to wait 14 days until he is considered fully vaccinated by the league. Benning cleared up the defenceman’s situation, as well.
“He went over to the pharmacy and he had some second thoughts, I guess. And then he went through some other struggles — issues that he was dealing with. He took a leave of absence from the team to deal with those issues.”
Last week, the general manager noted it will be a couple of weeks until Hamonic can cross the border. The Canucks are on a five-game road trip, and Hamonic could join the team near the end of the trip.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.