The Vancouver Canucks paid a heavy price this summer when it went out and traded their 2020 first-round pick to Tampa Bay to acquire forward J.T. Miller. Despite a disappointing season with the Lightning last year in which he scored just 13 goals and 47 points, Vancouver believes they are getting a 20-goal, 50-point player, who can immediately step into the Canucks’ top-six.
One thing that many people like about Miller is the fact that he is a versatile forward, who can play any position on the forward line. And at reasonable cost at $5.25MM over the next four years, he should provide solid value for a team that needs to score goals. However, while most people have Miller penciled in as a winger on one of those top two lines, The Athletic’s Harman Dayal (subscription required) writes that the team should instead consider moving him back to center and placing him on the third line in hopes of stabilizing a line that has been a nightmare for several years now.
Of course trading a first-round pick for what could be a third-line center might not look good for general manager Jim Benning. However, Dayal cites that Miller has solid defensive skills that would make him a solid full-time center and the entire goal is to make the team better and the team might be better off with Miller at center and a lesser winger moving up in the lineup. It also might leave the team better off with a deeper and more talented balance on all three lines, as opposed to putting all their talent in the top two lines.
- Sticking with the Canucks, the Province’s Ben Kuzma writes that no matter how you look at it, Vancouver center Adam Gaudette just doesn’t have much of a chance to make the team out of training camp. The 22-year-old Gaudette played 56 games for Vancouver last year, but with a loaded roster and the fact that he is waiver-exempt, the math just doesn’t work out for Gaudette staying in the NHL when the season starts. It’s far more likely that the team will send the former Hobey Baker award winner to Utica in the AHL to start the season. He only played 14 games there last year as he spent most of his first professional season learning on the fly as the team’s No. 3 center. However, with more depth in hand, Kuzma writes that the team might be able to develop his skills even better in Utica. He scored five goals and 11 points in the 14 games he played with the Comets last year.
- Despite continued impressive play by 2018 second-round pick Ryan McLeod in rookie camp so far and considering that McLeod came close to breaking camp with Edmonton last year, the team is very high on his development and potentially making the team this year. However, the Edmonton Journal’s Kurt Leavins writes that despite McLeod’s impressive play, the recent signing of Riley Sheahan almost guarantees that McLeod will return to juniors this year. Regardless, Leavins believes have their future No. 3 center, starting next season.