J.T. Miller was by far the best Vancouver Canucks forward this past season.
He led the way offensively. Miller and Elias Pettersson tied the team lead in goals with 32. Miller led the Canucks with 67 assists and 99 points. Those 99 points were ninth in the NHL. Miller had the highest point total by Canuck since Daniel Sedin led the league with 104 points in the 2010-11 season.
It was a year of milestones for Miller. He was always trying to make things happen offensively. Sure, his defensive play and defensive zone passes were not good but he still was consistently producing and one of the most exciting Canucks to watch.
Ideally, the Canucks would want to hang on to Miller for a long time. He is a leader on the team and has emerged as a star in the NHL. However, the Canucks are not close to Stanley Cup contention and need to use this offseason to get closer to there.
Miller’s contract with an AAV of 5.25 million dollars is expiring after next season. After the season he has had and regardless of how well he does next season, he is going to want a big raise. Miller also will be 30 next year and that is the age where NHL players typically start to decline.
So the best option for the Canucks is to trade him. If they do decide to trade Miller, it will be hard for the fanbase to swallow which I get. Miller was the heart and soul of the Canucks last season and seeing him leave will be tough to swallow.
However, President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Patrik Allvin have spoken about creating cap space and making team better numerous times.
Miller’s name has been brought up in the trade rumour department for months. The Canucks could have traded him at the trade deadline but they didn’t. This summer is the time too.
Miller’s 99 points are impressive but can he replicate it next year? Maybe. The year after? Possibly. But long term it isn’t sustainable. While there are some exceptions like Joe Pavelski of the Dallas Stars, statistics show that players in their 30s typically don’t sustain their level of production in their 20s.
It’s about thinking long-term here.
Miller’s next contract is likely going to be over eight million dollars a season for eight years. One contract comparable is Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers who will make 8.5 million starting next season until 2030.
It would not look good at all to give Miller that amount of term and money and he declines. Sure he might have a few good years left in him but it’s the later years that will hurt.
Rutherford and Allvin want to not only create cap space but get some prospects and younger players on the roster too. Miller can fetch those and some high picks.
With Miller’s name not going away in the rumours, he is going to be a hot commodity this summer and teams could be willing to give up a lot for him.
Trading Miller this summer could move the Canucks closer to contention. No, that doesn’t mean they’ll contend for the Stanley Cup next year but long-term, a trade could be very beneficial. Draft picks and prospects will be used to fill the cupboards. The Canucks may also target some young right-handed defencemen in a Miller trade and if they do get one, that d-man potentially could be a big part of the blue line for years to come and be Quinn Hughes’ long-term partner.
Giving a long-term extension to Miller is just too risky. As much as he is loved by his teammates, coaches and the fans, it would be best to trade him for the sake of the future of the franchise.
It will be very tough to see Miller go but it is the right move. If the Canucks do end up getting a bunch of pieces that benefit them long-term then losing him will be worth it.