Unlikely, but Canucks should put Miller at third-line centre

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 19: J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 19, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 19: J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 19, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

It won’t happen but what if Travis Green addressed the Vancouver Canucks third-line by shifting J.T. Miller to centre as a veteran who can score and win draws?

Think about it… J.T. Miller is a versatile two-way player who could do a lot of good things for the Vancouver Canucks if he was playing centre on the third line. Not only is he proven to be an excellent top-five league-wide faceoff winner as of last season, but Miller also plays a complete 200ft game and he’s a consistent point producer.

No shame in the overall play of Adam Gaudette during his rookie campaign in 2019-20, but he wasn’t exactly the defensive centreman with the offensive upside that Vancouver desperately needed at times.

He earns credit for his 100% effort in every shift, however, Gaudette was well away from carrying a positive faceoff win percentage and he was occasionally irresponsible defensively. It could be questioned in the long run whether or not Gaudette has the chops to make it as a defensively responsible third-line center.

He’s shown promise of being an offensive piece, but maybe he’s better off on the wing, potentially inside the Canucks’ top-six. It can be tough to get past the realization that by deciding to play Miller further down the lineup, Travis Green has to take his playing minutes away from Elias Pettersson, but by doing so he would give the Canucks a much more balanced team that would likely be a lot more difficult to play against.

Miller on the third-line would give the Canucks a well-balanced scoring top-nine and Pettersson has proven he’s more than good enough to produce offence with anyone he plays with. His longest point drought is only three games. Plus, Miller and Pettersson would still create plenty of magic together as a part of one of the NHL’s most deadly man-advantage units.

If the Canucks played Pettersson, Miller and Bo Horvat down the centre, there are a lot of ways Green could decide to spread out his lines. There’s a lot of time if that needed to be figured out, but it would make sense to put Brock Boeser with Pettersson on line one just as much as it would make sense to keep Horvat and Tanner Pearson together.

If Green goes with that idea, although Virtanen also plays right-wing, he would be a better fit in an offensive role next to Pettersson and Boeser as opposed to playing a two-way role with Horvat and Pearson as linemates.

That would leave a spot on line two likely to be filled by Gaudette. He’s arguably as offensive as Virtanen in a lot of ways, has the potential to be a top-six player, but he’s the better option to keep up defensively with Horvat and Pearson. They’re commonly up against the opposition’s best players each game and Gaudette is better suited to compete.

Now with an idea of the top-six, Miller would bring that defensive responsibility to the first line of attack in the team’s bottom-six and he’d be a great mentor to young players like Zack MacEwen and Jayce Hawryluk. If Nils Hoglander made the team out of camp, he’d be a terrific linemate for Miller to mentor.

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Miller’s consistent performance and veteran presence from last season should be used to help better this team. By spreading out the all-star centres onto their own lines (Pettersson, Miller, Horvat), each player becomes responsible for creating offence on their own line (which they are capable of doing) while helping to carry the Canucks’ up and coming youngsters.

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I know this way of doing things is unlikely. Miller and Pettersson’s chemistry is too good to pass up, but this is seriously a possible way for the Canucks to get creative and find something that helps them stay afloat in the playoff race. What do you think Canucks Nation?