In this edition of the Vancouver Canucks News & Rumors, contract talks involving J.T. Miller continue as the forward’s camp puts a deadline on negotiations. Also, Vasily Podkolzin feels at home as he heads into his second NHL season. There are a few updates on the Canucks blue line as Tucker Poolman is expected to be ready for training camp.
Miller Contract Talks
Miller is headed into the final season of his five-year contract with an average annual value of $5.25 million. The Canucks have yet to trade the 99-point forward, and their window at extending him before the season starts is closing. The Athletic’s Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal report there is a good chance Miller’s camp will opt to cut off all contract talks when the regular season starts (from ‘What we’re hearing about the J.T. Miller dynamic, Canucks’ plan for training camp,’ The Athletic, August 26, 2022).
The Canucks still have time to get a deal done with the forward, but a trade featuring him feels a little more likely, which could happen any time before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. NYIHockeyNow’s Stefen Rosner suggests now is the best time for the New York Islanders to revisit a potential Miller trade. The organization reportedly talked with the Canucks at the 2022 NHL Draft in July, but the trade fell through. After the Islanders missed out on Johnny Gaudreau and Nazem Kadri, trading for Miller seems to be their best chance to improve their forward group.
Calvin de Haan Potential Free Agent Target
Drance and Dhaliwal also mentioned the Canucks can find help for the blue line through free agency in Calvin de Haan. The Canucks are among a small group of teams interested in de Haan. The defenceman had a bounce-back season in the final year of his four-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. Drance and Dhaliwal noted the Canucks believe they can add another contract for around $1.3 million, which could be for the 31-year-old.
De Haan scored four goals and posted eight points in 69 games last season. The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder is a left-shot defensive defenceman who can play on his off-side. Adding de Haan would provide the Canucks with a bit more depth on the back end.
Podkolzin Feels at Home Heading into Second Season
Podkolzin is headed into his sophomore season with the Canucks and is starting to feel comfortable. The Russian forward is getting familiar with his surroundings after a full season with the organization in 2021-22 (from ‘Canucks’ returnee Vasily Podkolzin thrilled with new Russian dynamic on team,’ The Province, August 29, 2022).
“I remember when I came in Vancouver last year, I felt like I don’t know nobody. I don’t know guys. I don’t know who is who,” said Podkolzin. “I came in this year, like a few days ago, I feel at home, you know? I went to my locker room. And everybody — staff, guys I know — I got hugs. And like, ‘How was summer? How was summer?’ ”
Podkolzin feeling comfortable in Vancouver heading into his second season is a good sign for the club. He’ll likely improve on his 14-goal and 26-point rookie campaign. The Canucks also added two new Russians to the roster, Ilya Mikheyev and Andrei Kuzmenko. Although Podkolzin doesn’t have a history with Mikheyev, he played with Kuzmenko in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with SKA St. Petersburg. Kuzmenko will also benefit from his relationship with the 2019 first-round draft pick during his rookie season, as it will ease his transition to the NHL.
Poolman Expected for Training Camp
Drance and Dhaliwal reported the Canucks have indicated that all of their defencemen will clear their physicals and be ready for training camp. Poolman, who dealt with multiple injuries last season, should be ready to go this month. He played 40 games last season and has not played a full 82-game season in his four-year career. If he is able to return to the lineup, he’d be a boost to the club’s right side. It would allow the Canucks to avoid moving one of their left-shot defencemen to the right side. If he is unable to return, the club could move Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Travis Dermott, or Quinn Hughes to the right side.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.