Hot on the heels of a devastating 7-1 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche which was followed up by a 7-4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights last night, there are loud calls being made for just about everyone to be fired; Jim Benning, Travis Green, maybe even Fin.
But with the coaching staff and front office all just a month into the penultimate year of their contracts, a mass dismissal may not be a realistic expectation…at least, not yet.
Firing a coach or firing a manager is an expensive proposition, because an owner has to cover the remainder of their contract AND the cost of their replacement. With that in mind, it’s probably safer to expect the Vancouver Canucks to shake things up via a major trade before they axe anyone.
Coincidentally enough, it’s also starting to look like a great time to trade one J.T. Miller.
To some, the very notion of trading Miller is going to sound inane. Since arriving in Vancouver, Miller has put up 134 points in 136 games, and in 2021/22, he leads the team with 16 in 14, tying him for seventh overall in NHL scoring.
But to others and as counterintuitive as it may seem, the timing may be right for the Canucks to be better off without Miller than with. Some, like this very author, may even be able to come up with nine reasons — in keeping with the number on JT’s back — why trading him in the immediate future is an option worth exploring.
#1: His Contract Status
Miller’s current contract, under which the Canucks pay him an average of $5.25 million a year to produce a point-per-game, is an absolute steal. It could be considered one of the best-value contracts in the league. But it’s ending at the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, and that’s an important factor in determining his future with the team.
Miller will be a UFA at the end of this contract, and the chances of the Canucks retaining him beyond there are questionable, for reasons that we’ll discuss in a moment. But that shouldn’t affect his trade value too much if the Canucks can act quickly enough.
Recent NHL precedence, primarily when it comes to the Tampa Bay Lightning and their pursuit of Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, has shown that contending teams are willing to pay an especially high price for players with a little bit of term left.
Renting someone at the Trade Deadline is all well and good, but GMs do seem to be shifting away from that and instead targeting players that will be around for at least two playoff runs, in order to ensure they get full value from their acquisition.
With that in mind, Miller’s trade value should peak sometime between now and the 2022 Trade Deadline, and then slowly roll downhill from there through the Entry Draft and into the 2022/23 regular season. His value might spike up again around the 2023 Trade Deadline, but it’s dangerous to wait that long.
The Canucks’ best chance at maximizing their return for Miller will come when he’s got at least a year left on his current contract, and that time is now.