Canucks: There is no more disputing the J.T. Miller trade

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning came under fire for acquiring J.T. Miller, but the 26-year-old has silenced all of the doubters.

It’s been over five months since Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning paid a premium to land J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The polarizing general manager received plenty of criticism and backlash for making the trade. He attached a future first-round pick to pry Miller away from the cap-strapped Lightning. Should the Canucks miss the playoffs in 2020, the pick defers to 2021.

Miller entered this season as a three-time 20-goal scorer with two 50-point seasons on his resume. Players of his caliber never come cheap, but the critics of Benning were still baffled by the first-round pick price tag.

But here we are past the quarter mark of the season, and Miller has proven to be a valuable puzzle piece in helping the team reach the next step. He leads the Canucks in scoring with 12, and only Elias Pettersson (31 points) is ahead of Miller in team scoring (28 points).

Miller has been the perfect fit on the top line with Pettersson and Brock Boeser — who’s also in line for a career year 11 goals and 25 points on the season. Maybe they aren’t as lethal as the Boston’ Bruins “Perfection Line” but the “Lotto Line” has been Vancouver’s best since the prime years of the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows.

The Canucks have spent most of the season in the running for the Pacific Division, but they’ve fallen behind quickly following a brutal month of November. But where would this team be right  without Miller and his 28 points? Probably not in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Even if Vancouver doesn’t make the playoffs, fans shouldn’t be worried about that first-round pick they owe to Tampa Bay. This team isn’t going to be a bottom feeder any time soon, so you shouldn’t stress about the possibility of that first-rounder becoming a lottery pick.

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Benning took the risk and paid a huge price to acquire Miller from the Lightning, and the 26-year-old has been the ideal fit on the west coast. In case it wasn’t evident enough, the Miller trade has been a huge win for the Canucks — and those who criticized the move have nothing to dispute anymore.