As the NHL season slowly approaches February, teams will start making the decisions on whether they are in contention for a playoff position or not. Conversations have already begun, discussing which players could be made available ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline which is scheduled for Monday, Mar. 21. While teams tend to overpay to get the specific player they truly want, and the assets gained can greatly help either re-tool or rebuild a franchise, the Vancouver Canucks shouldn’t trade away J.T. Miller.
With the rumours swirling around the 28-year-old, it’s been reported by Pierre Lebrun on TSN’s Insider Trading, that Vancouver is in an interesting position. “My own take: the Canucks do not have to move Miller at this deadline since he has term so they can be picky and make it clear to bidders that they better come ready. We’re talking three or four assets to get into a serious conversation.”
While that would be all well good to get a king’s ransom from the Ohio native and re-stock the prospect pool and draft capital, the Canucks would be wise to keep him around. Outside of being their most productive and valuable player this season for Vancouver, his leadership along with having a team-friendly cap hit are things that add so much more value to a guy that is already invaluable to his team.
Miller Has Been Their Most Productive Player
Production has been hard to come for some of Vancouver’s higher-paid and skilled players in the 2021-22 season. Guys like Elias Pettersson (24 points), Brock Boeser (22 points), and Bo Horvat (23 points), have all had chipped in offensively, but not to the level Miller has produced.
Miller currently leads the Canucks in goals and points with 15 and 44. But it’s not just this season, this dates back to when he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a conditional first-round pick, a third-round pick, and goaltender Marek Mazanec back in June of 2019. In 164 games as a member of the Canucks, Miller has put up an impressive 162 points, almost exactly one point-per-game (PPG). His analytical metrics have been just as impressive, with Corsi For percentage (CF%), averaging out to 55% over his last three seasons, with this season sitting at 53.9%.
Miller Is One of The Main Leaders on the Team
Not much needs to be said about what type of player Miller is on the ice. He’s physical, he can score, and he is a proven playoff performer. He was also given the honour of being one of the alternate captains of the team this year, along with Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Myers, making him one of the main leaders of this Canucks squad.
It’s not just his ability on the ice, it’s his availability to the media, to hold himself and the team accountable. After playing an extended amount of road games earlier in the season, it was Miller, who not only didn’t make excuses but also brought a point of optimism. “We’re not making excuses, it’s really hard to play on the road. On the other side of that, we’re going to get to play some home games too, a lot in a row. it’s going to be an equal advantage, no matter how you look at it”.
Miller’s Cap Hit is Very Team Friendly
One of the biggest talking points in today’s game is the salary cap. With the NHL being one of the few professional sports leagues with a hard cap, along with players exceedingly earning more and more money, being a general manager in today’s game has become increasingly difficult. When a team has a star player with a very team-friendly cap hit, it’s usually in the team’s best interest to hang onto them, and that’s especially the case for Miller.
Miller signed a five-year, $26.25 million extension with the Lightning back in 2018, before being dealt to the Canucks a year later. Miller will carry a cap hit of $5.25 million for the remainder of this season as well as the 2022-23 campaign. For a player that averages nearly a PPG with a cap hit under $6 million, it is an incredibly valuable asset to have, which allows a team to allocate money elsewhere. If Miller were to be dealt, there is a very small likelihood that Vancouver would be able to replace him with a player, let alone two, for the same amount of money he’s currently making.
Outside of maybe Nathan MacKinnon ($6.3 million), David Pastrnak ($6.66 million), and William Nylander ($6.9 million), there aren’t many other players that have a better average annual value (AAV) than Miller. Mix together being the Canucks most productive forward, and being a leader on and off the ice, it’s something teams don’t often just trade away, regardless of what the return is.
I’m a London, Ontario based broadcaster and sports writer for the Vancouver Canucks. I’ve done work in the past reporting on the NHL, NBA and MLB. I’ve also covered the OHL including the Owen Sound Attack and am currently involved with the London Knights.