NHL Trade Deadline Primer: J.T. Miller should carry a high price

NHL Trade Deadline J.T. Miller
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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.

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    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.