What J.T. Miller’s agent threatening to cut off contract talks means for the Canucks

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Strang
1 year ago
The Athletic recently broke the news that J.T. Miller’s agent has said there’s a good chance they cut off all contract talks with the Canucks once the NHL season begins.
The J.T. Miller saga has been the biggest news of the Canucks’ offseason and the story has been drawn out for months as the Canucks have been unable to find a suitable trade partner. While at one point it seemed almost inconceivable that Miller would start the season in Vancouver, now it seems extremely unlikely that the Canucks manage to deal him before opening night.
While the Miller camp and the Canucks are reportedly still far off in terms of agreeing on an extension, negotiations officially coming to an end would be a significant development for the Canucks. There are consequences not only for the Canucks’ ability to find an extension but also for Miller’s value as a trade asset.

Rising comparables across the NHL

The Canucks would love to keep Miller on their team but the price difference seems too large to overcome. This gap in valuation hasn’t shrunk as other players around the league have been signing big deals. These can be used as comparables by the Miller camp and work to price the forward out of the Canucks budget.
Nazem Kadri just signed a $49 million / 7-year contract with the division rival Calgary Flames. Miller is a younger and better player than Kadri and the new member of the Calgary Flames stated that he left money on the table to go to Alberta. This means that $50ish million over seven years serves as a starting point for the Miller camp and a number that would be a baseline at best.
These contracts work against the Canucks and Miller coming to an agreement and make it more likely that he enters the NHL season still on the Canucks. This gives Miller’s camp the opportunity to cut off negotiations, leaving the Canucks with little leverage to find the best deal possible.

Losing more of an already weakened bargaining position

At last season’s trade deadline, the Canucks could offer a top-ten point producer in the NHL for two playoff runs at a cap hit of just $5.25 million. That’s a very valuable asset that could be made even sweeter if the Canucks had agreed to retain any of Miller’s already bargain salary.
As it stands right now, the Canucks can offer one playoff run for that same player (though six months older). This is already a drop-off in value that has now been exacerbated as the NHL moved through the summer months and teams acquired other players as free agents or in trades. These teams are no longer looking to make that splashy addition and have no need for Miller.
The Canucks’ bargaining position has already been significantly weakened. If Miller’s camp were to come out and publicly announce that they’ve cut off all talks of an extension, the Canucks will be backed into a corner. Any potential trade partners can threaten the possibility of just waiting until summer and then bidding on Miller’s services when he’s a free agent, leaving the Canucks with nothing to show for their once premium asset.

Facing the possibility of the worst-case scenario

This worst-case scenario — where the Canucks can’t find a trade partner or come to an agreement on an extension and Miller walks for nothing next summer — is on the mind of every fan in Vancouver. After witnessing close to a decade of management mishandling assets, the fanbase is rightfully scarred.
There is lots of pressure on Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford to make the most of this move which is really the first big test of their tenure. Considering the two have been quiet on the transactions front thus far — especially considering Rutherford’s trigger-happy past — this saga will be huge for the duo’s reputation.
Considering Miller’s impact on the ice and the value he presents as a trade asset with his low salary, this move will likely play a major factor in determining the success of Allvin and Rutherford’s regime. While botching it doesn’t necessarily mean failure, this is a great chance for the Canucks to set themselves up for success. Allowing Miller’s camp to publicly cut off negotiations when the season starts would be a huge mistake that would make life much more difficult for the Canucks.

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