In this edition of the Vancouver Canucks News & Rumors, the organization extended J.T. Miller to a long-term contract, while the Canucks turn their attention to extending Bo Horvat. Additionally, general manager (GM) Patrik Allvin discussed the current state of the team’s defence.
Miller on Extension
After months of speculation on Miller’s future with the Canucks, the two sides agreed to an extension. The organization extended the forward to a seven-year, $56 million contract on Friday. Miller and Allvin both commented on the deal on Tuesday. The 29-year-old is hopeful about the club’s future.
“I think we want to do more,” Miller said. “Winning in the regular season is great, but that’s not why we play. We want to get back to the playoffs and we want to play when it counts. … And that’s what’s so exciting about it — the best is yet to come.”
He also added the deal frees him up to play consistent hockey instead of having to worry about contract talks. Miller is coming off a career year as he scored 32 goals and posted 99 points in 80 games. Meanwhile, Allvin added the team was happy to get a deal done with Miller.
“We took our time and looked at the roster. Cap situation moving forward, obviously, is important. And then we looked at the options, what’s out there, in terms of players being available potentially next summer,” Allvin said. “And as I’ve said all along here, J.T. was our best player last year. He’s a super competitive player. And we were really happy to get the contract extension here done.”
Horvat Contract Talks Update
With Miller’s deal out of the way, the attention turns to captain Horvat, who is a pending unrestricted free agent in the 2023 offseason. Allvin also commented on Horvat’s contract negotiations on Tuesday.
“Bo is our captain. We respect and we like Bo,” Allvin said. “And we’re communicating with his camp and we’ll see if there’s a deal to be made there.”
Allvin added the Canucks won’t have to make moves heading into the season to extend Horvat, but the organization will have to be aware of the cap situation. Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t see the Canucks losing the forward as the club turned down trade offers for him last season. He adds if Miller is an $8 million player, then Horvat isn’t too far off from that as he just missed out on a 40-goal season in 2021-22. The captain scored 31 goals in 70 games before getting injured. Rick Dhaliwal noted the two sides continue to talk as there is a little gap in the cap hit in the forward’s next contract.
Oilers Interested in Former Canuck Virtanen
Dhaliwal told Sekeres and Price the Edmonton Oilers are interested in Canucks 2014 first-round pick, Jake Virtanen. He adds three to four other teams are also interested in the forward. Dhaliwal notes the reason for interest in the forward is his size, ability to skate and the fact he will come at a cheap price. Signing Virtanen will be a controversial move by any team, something the Oilers dealt with last season after signing Evander Kane.
Virtanen last played 38 games with the Canucks in the 2020-21 season before he was placed on leave by the club due to accusations of sexual misconduct. He was charged with sexual assault in January, but a jury found him not guilty. Virtanen played 36 games in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with the Moscow Spartak during the 2021-22 season.
Allvin Happy with Defence
Allvin also addressed the Canucks biggest weakness on Tuesday, their blue line. The GM said he is happy with the club’s defence group and thinks with everybody healthy, the team will be competitive. The Canucks didn’t have Tucker Poolman for most of last season and are hoping to get him back this season.
However, earlier in the offseason, president of hockey ops Jim Rutherford noted the club has to address its defence, while the team struggled to add a defenceman in the offseason. Additionally, the Canucks have been linked to Calvin de Haan for a few weeks now and could add him for his versatility on the back end.
No Contract Talks with Sutter
Brandon Sutter joined Sekeres and Price and said he has yet to hear from the Canucks to return this season. The forward missed last season due to COVID-19 long-hauler symptoms, which he had still been dealing with as of July. Sutter is an unrestricted free agent, and at 33 years old, he is looking to end his playing career in Vancouver. However, it is unlikely the Canucks sign Sutter to a new deal as the club added Curtis Lazar this offseason and already have Jason Dickinson at centre.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.