Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know. Another JT Miller article. It seems like the Canucks’ most valuable forward last season has dominated the Nucks media circuit since the start of last season. Is he getting moved? Is free agency going to help or harm his trade value? Wherever he ends up, the ramifications of trading or keeping big #9 are going to dramatically affect the future of the franchise.
A significant sect of fans seem to be keen on moving him out – and I understand that. It’s hard not to salivate over potential trade packages – tantalizing bouquets of prospects and picks that could help re-stock the organization with young up-n’-comers; and of course – address the need for a solid right handed D-man. I get it. It’s sexy. But lets not forget the oft overlooked value that JT Miller brings specifically to the Vancouver Canucks. Without him, they simply aren’t the same team.
As we all know, Miller had a career season last year. A whopping 99 points and the ascension into the NHL’s upper echelon of elite talent. Beyond point totals, he brought grit, tenacity, a will-to-win and leadership – often heaving an uninspired Canuck team onto his shoulders and simply dragging the squad to the finish line on some nights. He was a beacon of consistency, an OT dynamo and an absolute beast on the power play – not to mention a great face-off guy (54.1% in 2021/2022) and penalty killer. We’re talking about one of the NHL’s best swiss army knives. For all these reasons, one could argue that we absolutely need to keep him to remain competitive now. Alternatively, for all these reasons, one could argue that his trade value has never been higher.
As of late, it is looking more and more like JT Miller will be at training camp in September. This is great news for the team’s offense, so in the spirit of optimism – let’s take a look at how much JT Miller meant to this team in the 2021/2022 season:
According to hockey-reference.com…
- When the game is close and JT Miller is on the ice:
- The team’s goals for is 1.9
- The team’s goals against is 1.1
- For reference, Bo Horvat’s oiGF/60 was 1.4 and his oiGA/60 was 1.2- not a knock on Bo, those numbers are good – but it’s evidence that Miller brings something different to the table.
- When the game is tied and JT Miller is on the ice:
- The team’s goals for is 1.0
- The team’s goals against is 0.5
This means that the Canuck’s odds of tying or winning a game when it’s knotted are nearly doubled when JT is on the ice. This speaks not only to his ability to set-up or score goals at important times – but also how responsible he is defensively; hence why he finished the season with an impressive +15 on a team that didn’t make the playoffs.
- JT Miller was second on the team in hits (after only Luke Schenn).
- He led the team in points by more than 30 (99 points to Elias Petterson’s 68 points).
- He led the team in Goals (32) and assists (67)
- He led the way in game winning goals (6).
- He led the team in Shots on Goal.
- He led all Canuck forwards in blocks.
- He led the team in takeaways (56).
- He led all forwards with an average time on ice of over 21 minutes.
In short… the guy is a fuckin’ monster.
So – when we talk about trading JT, we’re talking about trading our best player. The Canucks would need to replace 100 points, 200+ hits, veteran leadership, and a knack for contributing to goals when games are close or tied. We can expect better numbers from Petterson and Boeser – and with the new Russian boys (Kuzmenko and Mikehyev), but the X factors that JT Miller brings to the table are simply tough to overlook.
Trading JT Miller just to free up cap-space would be silly – if the return ain’t right, we might as well roll with him and cross our fingers that management can either sign the guy to a reasonable extension before the trade deadline or fetch a return that addresses the team’s needs now and in the future.
Don’t even get me started on how much an impact this guy would have if the team makes the playoffs.