Canucks’ News & Rumors: Miller, Demko, Rutherford & More

In this edition of the Vancouver Canucks‘ News & Rumors, the Canucks had a Thursday packed with news. J.T. Miller is involved in trade rumors, while the forward and Thatcher Demko have been placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Additionally, the organization continues to add to its front office.

Miller in Trade Rumors

The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli joined Sportsnet650 on Thursday and notes he can see the club trading Miller before they add a new general manager. Seravalli has stated the New York Rangers are one of the teams that will likely be interested in acquiring the Canucks’ leading point scorer.

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He thinks the Canucks are open to trading Miller based on the position the club is in. The team sits five points out of the second wild-card spot. Although they are close to a playoff spot, there is no guarantee the organization makes it this season. Additionally, Miller is in the prime of his career, and his value is high. Therefore, the Canucks could receive a good package in return.

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

The Athletic’s Thomas Drance reports there are multiple teams in the NHL that rate Miller as the second-best player that could be available at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline (from ‘What J.T. Miller trade rumours and the Canucks’ new-look analytics department tell us about Jim Rutherford’s plans’ The Athletic, January 20, 2021). Additionally, Jim Rutherford said the team has an advantage as the club doesn’t have many unrestricted free agents (UFA). 

“Certainly the impact guys are still under team control beyond this year, so we’re not in a situation where we have to make tough decisions prior to the deadline,” Rutherford said. “We’ll have decisions to make because teams are going to call about players, but we’ll have the normal decisions to make. We’re not going to be pressured into making decisions.”

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A trade involving Miller may not necessarily take place during the regular season, but it could happen in the off-season or sometime in the 2022-23 season. Miller is a UFA after the 2022-23 season. 

Miller and Demko Test Positive for COVID

Miller and Demko have been placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Both Miller and Demko will have to quarantine for five days, and if their symptoms are improving and they no longer have a fever, they could play after their quarantine period.  

The two join Bo Horvat, Jaroslav Halak and Conor Garland on the team’s COVID protocol list. Horvat, Halak and Garland tested positive earlier in the week and have been stuck south of the border, but if they are cleared, they will be able to play in the team’s weekend games. The Canucks take on the Florida Panthers on Friday night and the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night, and both clubs rank in the top 10 in league standings. 

The Canucks will be without their top point producer in Miller and their MVP in Demko. Therefore, the team will need Horvat, Garland and especially Halak for their upcoming games.

Related: Canucks Bo Horvat Emerging as One of NHL’s Most Underrated Centers

Head coach Bruce Boudreau expressed frustration in the difference of COVID-19 isolation rules between Canada and the United States (from ‘Canucks: Boudreau frustrated by Canada’s COVID-19 border rules as two key players test positive,’ The Province, January 20, 2022).

“This whole border thing, it’s quite unfair, quite frankly, for Canadian teams that have a lot of games across the border.” Boudreau said. “I know government rules and that, but I have a hard time understanding how COVID in the States is different from COVID in Canada. When they cross the border, all of a sudden it turns into a 10-day quarantine here.”

“A five-day quarantine in the States isn’t as good as a five-day quarantine in Canada? It’s just frustrating.”

Canucks Hire Rachel Doerrie

The Canucks continue to add to their front office, and this time to their analytics department. The club hired Rachel Doerrie as an analyst, who said she wanted to work for the Canucks for a long time.

“I’m thrilled, I’m over the moon. I don’t really think it’s sunk in yet that I’m joining the Canucks, and everything that they are becoming,”

Doerrie previously worked with the New Jersey Devils as an analyst of player information and video. Additionally, she worked with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves as a video coach, as well as a short stint as a video coach with Hockey Canada. The past few years, Doerrie has worked as the director of advanced performance with the York University of Toronto. 

Doerrie joins three other members of the team’s analytics department in Aidan Fox, Ryan Biech and Miles Hoaken. Fox has been leading the search in adding to the club’s analytics department, and could potentially receive a promotion.

“That’s the function that Aiden is holding down right now,” Rutherford said. “He’s the guy that’s building this department. I like to give the people that are on staff now every chance I can to do these different roles. I like the job Aiden is doing.”

Drance notes the difference in approach with analytics between the organization’s current management group to the former management group. Under Jim Benning, the research and development department’s efforts were without explicit support. Meanwhile, under Rutherford, the club is attempting to grow that area and seemingly values it a lot more.

Canucks February Schedule Released

The Canucks announced new dates for seven postponed games. Six of the seven games will take place from Feb 8 to Feb 21. The two weeks were originally dedicated to the NHL’s Olympic break. The seventh game is against the Ottawa Senators on April 19.