Vancouver Canucks, JT Miller, Bo Horvat

Scenario: Vancouver Canucks Keep Horvat, Trade Miller

Here’s one for the Vancouver Canucks: Trade Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller, free up $14.6-million per season moving ahead, use the money to re-sign Bo Horvat, Andrei Kuzmenko and start working on a new Elias Pettersson deal next season. There’s your core moving forward.

Pettersson and Horvat as your 1A and 1B centres for the foreseeable future; not too shabby. Potentially way more stable than what you’re looking at now, and a bit younger.

Horvat will be 28 in April, Miller will be 30 in March.

Horvat is the Canucks captain and has played all of his 600 NHL games with Vancouver. Pettersson is a star, Kuzmenko is a burgeoning one.

This whole concept would require Canucks management to be willing to reconsider tying themselves to Miller and admitting they didn’t need to spend $6.5-million per season for two more on Boeser. It would mean shuffling the cards to not only improve the team moving forward but to give themselves greater financial flexibility.

This would be one giant chemistry manoeuvre. It’s one of the all-important intangible “C’s” we have in hockey: Character, commitment, chemistry, coaching, and confidence. Given the firehouse mentality of a hockey team, chemistry might be the most important. It helps build the others.

How does one picture the room given the various leadership options.

A Viable Canucks Alternative

This is a conversation worth having with Horvat via his agent Pat Morris.

Miller’s no-move clause hasn’t kicked in yet. He’s just as viable an option for teams out there looking at Horvat. In fact, his career point-per-game rate is higher than Horvat’s and his annual price is already set.

Trading Miller to the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team desperate for a top centre, means allowing him to play as close to his hometown as possible without joining the Penguins. Among their assets, the Blue Jackets have three teenage 1st-round NHL Draft pick defence prospects, Denton Mateychuk (12th, 2022), David Jiricek (6th, 2022), and Corson Ceulemans (25th, 2021). The latter two are right-handed and Jiricek has already played two NHL games.

For the Canucks, this isn’t about total statistical output, this is about the aforementioned “C’s” and what you want your dressing room to look like in two, four, seven years.

The Canucks aren’t locked into trading any particular player at this point. They need to view all of the scenarios and choose the right one, even if it involves backpedalling.

What line-up gives you the best chance to win it all in the next five years. That’s it.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.