Things are not alright in Vancouver amidst another disappointing start. The Canucks sit seventh in the Pacific Division with just three wins in their past ten games. While the front office and ownership have promised (at least publicly) to stay the course and not overreact to their current turmoil, NHL competitors are taking notice and lining up for a piece of a potential fire sale.
At the front of the line are the Minnesota Wild. The Central Division leaders are enjoying a strong start, but are not without holes in the lineup, one of them being another top-six scorer. While The Province’s Ben Kuzma notes that Minnesota native Brock Boeser would seem to be the ideal acquisition, he reports that the Wild have in fact called on J.T. Miller. While Miller has flashed ability at every stop, including New York and Tampa, he has been at his best since landing with the Canucks. Miller can do it all from the center position; a balanced scorer, fierce checker, and face-off ace, Miller has developed into a well-rounded top-six pivot. He even plays big minutes for the Canucks, too. The Wild have taken notice and clearly feel that he could be an asset, perhaps even on the top line.
Kicking the tires is far from finalizing a deal though and the Canucks won’t let Miller go easily. Miller is signed through next season and at a $5.25MM AAV that is very palatable for a player who has scored at a near point-per-game pace since arriving in Vancouver. Kuzma suspects that a package from Minnesota would likely include Kevin Fiala, which could be attractive to the Canucks. Fiala and the Wild seem to be at odds about his role on the team following a difficult negotiation this summer and the 25-year-old forward could benefit from a change of scenery. The Canucks would get younger by swapping Miller for Fiala, but will also maintain their goal of avoiding a rebuild by adding another talented, proven forward in return. That won’t be it either, as the Canucks will be able to command some building blocks as well. Their first-round pick and top prospects Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy are likely off the board, but a second-round and/or an exciting young name like Calen Addison or Adam Beckman could be floated instead.
Again, a deal is nowhere close but when interest is able to be confirmed like this, there is typically more than just smoke. The Canucks and Wild seem like good trade partners, the question is whether Vancouver is willing and if so whether Minnesota can meet their demands. Miller could be a game-changer for a Wild team in position to make a deep run this season.