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Photo Credit: © Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

What the Flames, Bruins, and Wild can offer the Vancouver Canucks in return for J.T. Miller

We only rarely dabble in weather forecasting here at CanucksArmy, but we feel quite confident in stating that the trade winds are blowing strong in Vancouver this week.

Last week, we covered the rumours that the New York Rangers were “all over” the pursuit of JT Miller, and spent some time speculating as to the pieces the Rangers might offer up in the course of that pursuit.

Since then, the rumours haven’t died down at all — in fact, they’ve rapidly expanded. DailyFaceoff’s own Frank Seravalli now states that at least three other teams have entered into serious negotiations for the Canucks’ top scorer, including the Minnesota Wild, the Calgary Flames, and the Boston Bruins, and that the bidding has already become bellicose.

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While we’re in the mood to prognosticate natural occurrences, we’ll go as far as to say that there’s enough smoke here to make a fire almost inevitable. There’s a bidding war about to erupt as soon as the Canucks’ front office is complete and open for business — and we wanted to take some time today to go over what the Wild, Flames, and Bruins might bring to the table as they try to acquire Miller at or before the 2022 Trade Deadline.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild have been looking for a number one center for pretty much their entire existence as a franchise, and it’s clear that they think Miller could at least be the temporary solution to their search. Minnesota was reportedly in on Miller back before Miller was even rumoured to be on the market, though their initial offer of Kevin Fiala and a second is even more laughable now than it was then.

Kevin Fiala

LW, 25, 5’10”, 193lbs

One year remaining, $5.1 million AAV

The supposed centrepiece of the Wild’s opening offer for Miller is Fiala, a solid top-six player, but a downgrade on Miller in every way. Fiala is on pace for his typical 60ish points, and would go a long way toward replacing Miller’s productivity from the left wing, along with a little of his rambunctiousness. Fiala, however, is half a season away from a new contract that will see him paid more than what Miller is now. If he’s part of the return for Miller, he better be coming with a serious plus.

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Matthew Boldy

LW, 20, 6’2”, 196lbs

Two years remaining, $880K AAV

Boldy is the Wild’s top prospect, and one of the best prospects in hockey in general. He’s got that perfect combo of size and speed, and he’s basically gone point-per-game ever since his sophomore year in college — even as he’s transitioned from the NCAA to the AHL to the NHL. For these reasons and more, Boldy would be a great asset to get back in a Miller trade, but he’s not one the Wild are likely to part with.

Marco Rossi

C, 20, 5’9”, 183lbs

Three years remaining, $894K AAV

Right behind Boldy on the Minnesota prospect charts is Rossi, a potential 1C who had his career delayed by a bout of long-COVID, but who is already dominating the AHL as a first year North American pro. Rossi, too, would be a fine — and literal — centrepiece of a Miller trade, but don’t expect the Wild to be eager to give up their future first line center for a quick fix.

Calen Addison

RHD, 21, 5’10”, 178lbs

Two years remaining, $795K AAV

Addison stands out as the Wild’s top RHD prospect, but he’s not one that is particularly suited to the Canucks’ needs. A smooth-skating two-way talent is always nice, but Vancouver probably prefers someone with a weightier approach to the game, and that — along with his general inability to break into the NHL — prevents Addison from being a key piece in any deal. As an additional sweetener, he’s a-okay.

Jordan Greenway

LW/RW, 24, 6’6”, 225lbs

One year remaining, $2.1 million AAV

A year or so ago, Greenway looked poised to become the NHL’s next great power forward, but he’s struggled since and probably squandered his chance at a big payday. Still, there’s ample talent and potential inside that enormous frame, and Bruce Boudreau seemed to click well enough with him when the two were together in Minnesota. Greenway’s 13 points in 31 games says he’s not the primary piece in a Miller trade, but he makes more sense surrounded by future assets.

Filip Johansson

RHD, 21, 6’1”, 176lbs

Unsigned draft pick

Johansson is another notable RHD prospect that the Wild have in their stable. The 2018 24th overall pick has developed well since the draft, but he moves the needle even less than Addison, and only makes sense as a luxury throw-in.

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Marat Khusnutdinov

C, 19, 5’11”, 176lbs

Unsigned draft pick

Khusnutdinov is a center prospect with top-six potential and flashy skill, but he’s a long-term project and far from a sure thing. Throw him in the “attractive sweetener” pile.

Adam Beckman

LW, 20, 6’1”, 168lbs

Three years remaining, $894K AAV

Beckman has drawn some attention as a rookie pro for his downright JT Miller-esque game, and nearly made the Wild out of camp unexpectedly. He’s not a bluechipper by any means, but he’d be a smart ask as the third or fourth piece in a deal.

Draft Picks

The Wild have all of their picks of note in all upcoming draft years. Their 2022 first rounder will be in the late-teens at best.

Can they put together a compelling offer?

The Wild can definitely put a solid offer on the table for Miller, but will they? Probably not. There isn’t really a deal that makes sense that doesn’t include Boldy or Rossi in some capacity, and Minnesota is going to be absolutely loath to move either of them. Either one of them, a first, and one of the other pieces mentioned should get the deal done, but don’t hold your breath on that happening.

Calgary Flames

The Flames are definitely the most surprising team of the four reportedly in on Miller, but it does make some sense. Any way you configure it, Calgary is missing a piece from their top-six, and Miller is the best fix available on the market. Still, they’d have to pay an extra acquisition tax on account of being a divisional and regional rival, and they don’t exactly seem like a market in which Miller is likely to re-sign, so negotiations could get complicated.

Connor Zary

C, 20, 6’0”, 178lbs

Three years remaining, $894K AAV

The former Kamloops Blazer and late 2020 first rounder has struggled early on as a rookie pro in Stockton. That doesn’t mean he won’t hit his ceiling as a top-six center, but it does take a little bit of the shine off a prospect that would have already made for an underwhelming return for Miller.

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Jakob Pelletier

LW, 20, 5’9”, 165lbs

Three years remaining, $863K AAV

Pelletier, on the other hand — the Flames’ 2019 first rounder — is lighting up the AHL in his first year out of the QMJHL. He’s a hardworking and versatile winger who can drive play and put up numbers, but he’s not really an A-lister or someone possessing a unique skill set. Like Zary, Pelletier doesn’t amount to a Miller trade centrepiece.

Matthew Coronato

RW, 19, 5’10”, 183lbs

Unsigned draft pick

Selected at 13th overall in this past draft, Coronato is probably the single most-talented prospect in the Calgary stable. He ripped the USHL a new on in 2021/22, and now he’s already a PPG player at the NCAA level as a freshman. Described as someone who controls the game when the puck is on his stick, Coronato might just be skilled enough to warrant being the primary target in a Miller deal — if only he weren’t a right winger. That’s the Canucks’ greatest area of organizational strength at the moment.

Juuso Valimaki

LHD, 23, 6’2”, 212lbs

Two years remaining, $1.55 mil AAV

Valimaki just can’t seem to crack the Flames’ lineup, and Darryl Sutter really doesn’t seem to be a fan. Unlike the aforementioned three prospects, Valimaki is likely already on the trade block, and he’d make a fine reclamation project for a number of franchises, including the Canucks. Valimaki has a bit more of the size and two-way profile that Vancouver might be looking for on their left side along with Quinn Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Jack Rathbone. That said, a project defender, even a potential high-reward one, does not equate to a meaningful asset in a trade for someone as high-profile as Miller.

Draft Picks

The Flames hold their first and second round picks in all future drafts, along with an additional second in 2022, courtesy of the Florida Panthers. Their 2022 first rounder could hit the mid-to-early-teens if the Flames continue to slump, but acquiring Miller should lead to it heading back up toward the 20s.

Can they put together a compelling offer?

No, not really. Firstly, there’s no one on the Calgary roster that the Canucks would be interested in and that the Flames would be willing to move. Something including both Coronato and Valimaki — maybe the first round pick gets involved — is appealing value-wise, but the fit isn’t there, and every other future asset available is even more underwhelming. It’s hard to imagine the Flames winning any sort of JT Miller bidding war, especially given the Canucks presumed reluctance to send Miller to Calgary in the first place.

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Boston Bruins

The Bruins and Miller are an obvious fit, attitude-wise, and he’d be sliding into the 2C slot recently vacated by David Krejci. Miller really puts the Bruins over the top as a true contender, and that could mean that they’ll pay full value for him. They also stand out as a team that can afford to extend him long-term after next season.

Brandon Carlo

RHD, 25, 6’5”, 212lbs

Six years remaining, $4.1 mil AAV

The holy grail return for Miller has to be Carlo, the hulking top-four defensive defender already signed to a reasonable long-term contract. Of course, those factors all combine to make it very unlikely that Boston would consider moving Carlo, even in exchange for someone as good as Miller. Still, you’ve got to at least ask.

Fabian Lysell

RW, 19, 5’10”, 172lbs

Three years remaining, $925K AAV

The Bruins nabbed Lysell at 21st overall after he slid a bit in this most recent draft, and he’s been starring for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL ever since. A high-paced sniper with wheels and a lethal release, Lysell is a top-tier prospect — albeit one at the Canucks’ area of least need as a right winger.

Jake DeBrusk

LW, 25, 6’0”, 188lbs

One year remaining, $3.675 mil AAV

Meh. DeBrusk is inevitably going to come up in discussions after his recent public trade request, but he’s not very appealing in general, and especially not as a return for Miller. DeBrusk has regressed in every year since his rookie season, and he’s due a qualifying offer of $4.41 million to even retain his rights beyond 2021/22. The Canucks can safely pass on DeBrusk.

Jakub Zboril

LHD, 24, 6’0”, 200lbs

One year remaining, $725K AAV

Of the Bruins’ infamous three consecutive flubs in the first round of the 2015 Entry Draft, Zboril is the one who has probably worked out the best. Aside from his ongoing injury concerns, Zboril is a true all-around talent that can do it all, including playing either side of the blueline. He would be an everyday NHLer already if he could stay healthy.

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Urho Vaakanainen

LHD, 23, 6’1”, 185lbs

One year remaining, $894K AAV

Drafted 18th overall in 2017, Vaakanainen has been bouncing back and forth between Boston and Providence — but mostly Providence — since his Draft+1 year. A natural skater with good vision and okay offensive instincts, Vaakanainen still has some upside as a top-four defender, but not enough to be much of a factor in any Miller-centric negotiations.

Jack Studnicka

C, 22, 6’1”, 171lbs

One year remaining, $769K AAV

Studnicka hits this list because he’s a big right-handed center with two-way sensibilities, along with the Bruins’ top center prospect in general. Still unable to do much damage at the NHL level, Studnicka has slipped to “B prospect” territory of late, and — stop us if you’ve heard this one before — doesn’t hit the radar as a centrepiece in a Miller trade.

Brady Lyle

RHD, 6’1”, 203lbs

Two years remaining, $800K AAV

Lyle is a sturdy, undrafted defender and the Bruins’ best RHD prospect at the moment. He’s a total longshot, however, and only a low-tier throw-in to a trade at best.

Draft Picks

The Bruins have their first and second round picks in all future years. In the hotly contested Atlantic, Boston could very well wind up with a draft pick in the teens, but the addition of Miller would also mean they were gearing up for a playoff run, so that would drop the pick’s value.

Can they put together a compelling offer?

No, not really. A first and Lysell maybe works value-wise, but doesn’t compare to what other teams might offer. Something around Carlo and one of the listed future assets works for Vancouver, but it’s not a trade that a would-be contender would make. Basically, it’s Carlo or bust…so it’s bust.

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Final Word

Three new teams may have entered the JT Miller Sweepstakes Arena, but they haven’t done all that much to take attention away from the already-present New York Rangers. The Flames have nothing of note to offer. The Wild do, but they won’t give it up. The Bruins can’t part with a top-four defender, and don’t have the future assets to make up for it.

The Rangers can still easily put together the most enticing package, and they also seem like the team that should be willing to give up the most. With a bunch of expensive extensions on the horizon, the time for the Rangers to win could be now — and Miller goes a long way towards increasing their chances.

Minnesota, Calgary, and Boston should be used by Patrik Allvin and Co. to get a bidding war going and up the ante on offers, but that’s all they should be used for. The real target is still the New York Rangers — or, perhaps, some as-of-yet unmentioned team that has yet to be formally identified.

More on that soon.