Former Vancouver Canucks defenceman and current Sportsnet analyst Kevin Bieksa made the case for the Canucks keeping forward J.T. Miller during Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.
Bieksa went down the list of the different ways Miller can make an impact on a nightly basis before comparing the potential sting of losing him to how the Canucks suffered the loss of another American-born forward who helped the team reach the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
When you get rid of these guys, that — “you can just draft a guy or develop somebody in the minors or even trade for them” — and you find very quickly that you just don’t find these guys around that often. Über competitive, super consistent, twice now he’s had nine-game point streaks, little ornery, little bit, maybe doesn’t love the media, you know — who does that remind you of, Vancouver fans? Ryan Kesler. Right? And, to be honest, like, in 2014 when Kes left, they’re still looking to replace him and you find that you can’t get these guys — like, he goes to the front of the net, he’s a very complete player, he’s great on faceoffs. These guys don’t grow on trees.
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Miller, 28, has been the subject of trade rumours throughout the 2021–22 season as the Canucks have struggled to find their footing in the Pacific Division playoff race. The former New York Ranger and Tampa Bay Lightning forward leads the Canucks with 63 points (22 goals, 41 assists) in 55 games this season.
While Miller has been a very productive forward throughout his Canucks tenure, his current contract (carrying a $5.25 million AAV) is set to expire after the 2022–23 season. His deal does not carry any trade protection.
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The Canucks currently sit in fifth place in the Pacific Division with a 28–23–6 record. They’re currently three points back of the Dallas Stars (31–20–3) for the final Western Conference wild-card playoff spot, albeit with the Stars having played three fewer games.