Vancouver Canucks: Defending the J.T. Miller trade

The Vancouver Canucks paid a hefty price to acquire J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it was a move that GM Jim Benning had to make.

Vancouver Canucks fans wanted to see their team make a big splash at the draft weekend here on the west coast, and general manager Jim Benning did just that.

Benning acquired forward J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning, sending goalie Marek Mazanec, their 2019 third-rounder plus a conditional 2020 first-round pick. Should the Canucks miss the playoffs in 2020, their 2021 first-rounder will go to Tampa instead.

I can recall Canucks Twitter going into a frenzy after the trade, and there was figuratively plenty of criticism aimed at Benning for surrendering a future first-rounder for Miller. There were some pundits who weren’t so fond of the trade, either.

But if you take a look at the big picture, you’ll see why it’s a trade that Benning had to make, one that will help this team complete its goal of reaching the postseason in 2020.

For starters, one has to understand that this is the price a GM has to pay if they want to acquire a top-six forward in his prime. Miller is only 26 years of age, and he has four years left of team control.

Not only that, but Miller’s production has been fairly consistent throughout his career. He’s a three-time 20-goal scorer, with four seasons of 40-plus points on his resume. This includes a 58-point campaign in 2017-18.

In short, there’s very little risk in this trade for Benning. He’s acquiring a big forward who can contribute 20 goals and around 45 points on a consistent basis.

Miller is not injury-prone. He’s not a rental. His scoring does not go up and down. He’s simply a reliable top-six forward.

If Benning wanted to find a similar player to Miller the alternative would have been to overpay for somebody in free agency. And the Canucks don’t need another bad contract on their hands. Not after the Loui Eriksson signing debacle.

Like the trade or not, Miller simply makes the Canucks a better team, and he might be that final piece in leading them to the postseason. He and fellow newcomer Micheal Ferland give Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat reliable scoring wingers. The top-six has been rebuilt. What is there to complain about?

Oh, and one more thing: I wouldn’t worry too much about that future first-round pick. The Canucks can only get better after adding more impact players to a young core that will only improve over time. They finished 23rd overall last season. You really think they’ll regress, thus giving Tampa Bay a future draft lottery selection? I’m not buying it.

I may be in the minority here, but in two to three years from now, I firmly believe Canuck fans will be looking back fondly on the Miller trade. You pay for what you get, and the Canucks are receiving a big-time impact player who will enhance their playoff push from here on out.