The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller.
J.T. Miller has had quite an interesting career path. He started as a promising young player with the New York Rangers, become a steady 20 goal scorer and looked like a long term part of their rebuild, and was then included as a throw-in to Tampa Bay in the Ryan McDonagh trade. After a couple of years in Tampa Bay, the Lighting dealt him to Vancouver for two draft picks, including a first-round pick, and a prospect.
It was a bold move at the time because Vancouver did not look like a team that was in the market for an established player like Miller.
It has turned out to be a steal for the Canucks as Miller has been one of the leagues most productive forwards, averaging a point per game, in his three years with the Canucks.
But a slow start to the season for the team, a murky salary cap situation, and a new front office has made Miller the subject of trade rumors as we approach the 2022 NHL trade deadline.
Given that he still has one year remaining on his current contract beyond this season the Canucks should not be feeling any major pressure to trade him. Especially as the Canucks try to play their way back into contention for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.
That should make the price to acquire him extremely high. Especially when you consider his production.
What the return might look like
Expensive is the first word that should be in your mind here. Very expensive. Miller has been one of the most productive forwards in the league and any team that acquires him gets him for two playoff runs and a full season next year. He is versatile, talented, wildly productive, and relatively affordable under the salary cap. The starting point for any trade here needs to be a first-round pick, a premium prospect, and probably a solid NHL player that can still help Canucks now this season. Anything less than that should be a non-starter. Anything less than that does not make it worth it for the Canucks right now.
The most logical landing spots
• New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins
The Rangers should be involved in any potential impact player, and this would be a great opportunity to correct a previous mistake (getting rid of Miller as a throw in when they did not need to do that). They have the salary cap space, the trade assets, and the need for a player like Miller. Go for it while you have the chance.
Boston is a sleeper contender right now, especially with Jeremy Swayman starting to get rolling in net. They could always use some additional scoring especially if they want to compete with the other top contenders in the Eastern Conference. The problem is the lack of trade assets and finding salary cap space.
Toronto does not really need Miller, but as we have said before here in these primers for forwards they need to win this season and should leave no stone unturned. Goalie and defense might be more pressing needs, but another impact forward can certainly help them win in the tough Atlantic Division.
Wild Card team: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins might have a need for another winger and Miller would be a great addition next to Evgeni Malkin on their second line. The obvious road block is prospects and salary cap space. But Jim Rutherford obviously has a connection to Pittsburgh, always manages to make a deal work, and almost certainly has players in Pittsburgh that he will value that could make the salary work (Kasperi Kapanen obviously stands out). The Penguins still have a major chance to compete for the Stanley Cup and should be looking at all options. Miller being under contract for next season would also be intriguing given the possibility of veteran winger Bryan Rust leaving in free agency this offseason for a major payday. Miller would simply make a lot of sense for this season as well as the future.
Spot I want to see just for fun: Detroit Red Wings
This is a young, exciting, promising team on an upward trajectory that has a ton of salary cap space to work with this offseason. They can be major Stanley Cup Playoff contenders next season with the right moves and Miller would be a great head start for that right now.
NHL Trade Deadline prediction
The Canucks seem like they might do something at the trade deadline, but I am not sure if Miller will be the player. Maybe Brock Boeser or Conor Garland move? Maybe they add somebody to try to make the playoffs. But for all of the trade speculation surrounding Miller I think he stays in Vancouver at least for the remainder of this season. Maybe they reexamine that in the offseason. Or not at all.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.