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Report: J.T. Miller’s contract a sticking point for Penguins ownership in rumoured March trade with Canucks
9 months ago
It appears we have some new insight into the rumoured trade between the Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins that would’ve involved J.T. Miller.
During March’s NHL trade deadline, rumours swirled about a potential three-team trade that would’ve seen the 29-year-old Miller dealt to the Penguins, and Jason Zucker heading to a new team through the Canucks.
In a new article written by The Athletic Pittsburgh’s Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe detailing the now-fired Pens GM Ron Hextall and president Brian Burke’s disastrous last season in Pittsburgh, one paragraph addressed how the potential Miller deal fell apart from the Penguins’ side of things:
Hextall flirted with the idea of adding Vancouver forward J.T. Miller, a Pittsburgh-area native who recorded 99 points the previous season, in a three-team trade, but the Penguins would have lost Jason Zucker in the deal — a non-starter for an infuriated Sullivan and a move that would’ve clashed with FSG’s judgment that it couldn’t justify Miller’s massive contract extension from a business perspective.
FSG refers to Fenway Sports Group, the Boston-based sports holding company that purchased the Penguins from Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle in December 2021. In addition to the Penguins, FSG also owns the MLB’s Boston Red Sox and the Premier League’s Liverpool F.C.
Miller, whose new seven-year, $56 million extension kicks in July 1, supposedly didn’t fit in with FSG’s plan to keep the Penguins’ roster running cost-effectively. The inclusion of Zucker in the deal also seemed to complicate matters, particularly for Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan.
Instead, Hextall opted for Plan B: a deal to acquire Mikael Granlund from the Nashville Predators in exchange for the Penguins’ 2023 second-round pick.
The entire 2022-23 campaign was a roller coaster for the Penguins, who went from a playoff shoo-in to falling apart down the stretch and missing the postseason entirely. Most notably with their destiny in their own hands, the Penguins dropped their final home game to the basement-dwelling Blackhawks 5-2, giving the Islanders the room to lock in the second wild card spot a night later.
Canucks GM Patrik Allvin and Hextall had famously been engaged in trade discussions that involved Miller dating all the way back to the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal. But the closest a deal came to reality was in March before trade talks fell apart.
Soon after the deadline, several reports came out that the Canucks had turned down the Penguins’ final offer for Miller, which would’ve included multiple draft picks. As the reports go, the Canucks wanted to add a young centre to replace Miller before pulling the trigger on any deal involving him.
This new wrinkle doesn’t directly negate anything about the previous reports. But it does add credence to the potential trade being one that neither side was completely happy with and therefore had a very small chance of being seen all the way through to the end.
Now, with the Penguins on the hunt for a brand new front office, any interest in Miller has likely disappeared with Hextall and Burke’s departure. Miller finished the season with 32 goals and 50 assists in 81 games for the Canucks.
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