J.T. Miller’s price tag is going to be high.
This statement is true of not only the Canuck forward’s value on the trade market, but also of the dollar figure in which it will take for Miller to sign a contract extension.
Therein lies the problem.
The Canucks have made it abundantly clear that if negotiations with Miller’s camp don’t go particularly well this summer, they’re ready to trade him for as many assets as possible back in return.
“He’s coming off a career year, he’s a very good player, players like him are hard to find that can put up points and they’re strong, they’re physical, and things like that,” Canucks president Jim Rutherford said in a recent radio interview. “But we’re going to negotiate with his agent this offseason, and we’re going to negotiate [a deal] that works for the Canucks, not only for now but long term. If both sides can come to an agreement, then J.T. Miller will be here long term.
“If the numbers get out of whack, then we have to make a non-emotional decision and make a tough decision that won’t be popular with anybody. And try to get assets that are going to help this franchise long term.”
On Friday, Satiar Shah of Sportsnet 650 reported that the New York Rangers had offered the Canucks defenceman Nils Lundkvist, Filip Chytil, and a first round pick in exchange for Miller sometime before the Trade Deadline. The Canucks declined that offer.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Canucks won’t accept a similar offer this offseason. It just means that the Canucks didn’t value that return package as enough to make them drop everything and trade their leading scorer amidst a playoff push that came seemingly out of nowhere.
What it does mean, however, is that for a team to really blow the Canucks’ socks off, they’ll have to up the ante a bit.
But what could that actually mean?
A league exec weighs in
We used a phone-a-friend to help us out a bit here.
“Getting a potential top pairing defenceman is the key to getting a fair return,” one anonymous league executive — not affiliated with the Canucks — told CanucksArmy. “A mid-round first could be a bust, and Chytil is an okay piece, but not great. Schneider, Chytil and a 1st is probably what’s necessary and I think adding a second-round pick is required. Miller is one of the top players in the game. It has to be a haul, and even if it is, the Canucks still may lose the trade.”
That last part is the key here, and it’s the thing that has plenty of Canucks fans pausing at the idea of trading Miller.
Losing a proven 99-point player who’s cost-controlled for one more season to get back a bottom six centre who you hope can continue to improve along with a young and relatively unproven right-shot defenceman who you’re hoping can do the same, plus a prospect who won’t be impacting your team for another 2-3 years in all likelihood?
That sure doesn’t sound appealing on the surface.
Minimizing risk, and the Braden Schneider thing
Any trade has risk involved, and for the Canucks, it’s all about minimizing that risk by increasing both the quality and the quantity of the future assets they’re getting in return.
Which is why it’s not hard to understand why the club seemed dead set on acquiring Braden Schneider in any deal involving Miller.
Schneider is a big right-shot defenceman with serious top-4 potential. Right now, he’s playing on the Rangers’ third pairing, and is showing all the signs of a player who could one day play with Quinn Hughes both now and down the line as well.
The only issue is, those are also the exact reasons the Rangers are likely to continue to refuse to offer him up in any trade, regardless of what the return is.
Although the Rangers don’t seem keen on moving Schneider at the current moment, it is worth noting that they have two very solid defencemen in Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba on the right side who presumably will keep Schneider out of the top 4 for the foreseeable future.
We’re not saying the Rangers will look at this situation and change their minds for sure, but there’s definitely a possibility that they’re more willing to move Schneider after getting a chance to evaluate their team during their current playoff run.
The general consensus
If a mid-late first round pick, a defence prospect, and a young roster player couldn’t get it done, one would have to assume that the Cancuks would either want a second-round pick attached to that, or players they value higher as the pieces involved in the trade instead.
If we’re guessing, and that’s all we’re really doing here, we say the Canucks trade Miller for a first, a second, a defence prospect, and a young roster player.
Of course, this is all for naught if the Canucks and Miller can work out an extension, and while that’s always a possibility, the reality of the situation is that comparables for Miller indicate a price that the Canucks just aren’t going to want to match.
But that’s a story for another day.
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