J.T. Miller’s Contract and the Vancouver Canucks Plan

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And finally – FINALLY – it’s done. J.T. Miller‘s contract has been signed, sealed, and delivered. The first major challenge during Patrik Allvin’s tenure is resolved… for now.

The Canucks Have A Plan

A favourite pastime of Canucks Twitter – and fandom at large – was J.T. Miller trade speculation. Who has what Vancouver wants, where there’s cap space available, and which teams are pushing for the Stanley Cup. And if you’ve only been in town for a day or two, that’s fine. But with the dragging on empty news cycles and a ravenous fan base, it was starting to get ugly.

NHL free agent frenzy

And, of course, it’s late Friday when news breaks.

Why late Friday? Because most of the hockey media is on the East Coast. What, you think the last big trade out West was announced accidentally? Please!

But outside of idle pettiness, what exactly is the plan the Allvin has put in place, here? He has long said that the team would much rather have Miller signed long-term than move him, and that came through. Without seeing what the structure of the contract is, it’s difficult to judge how much risk this contract carries. If it is a bonus-laden deal all the way through, then obviously the risk is higher. Likewise, if the cash payout increases late. If, on the other hand, it’s front-loaded then the possibility of a late move emerges. Even if the Canucks have to absorb some of the cap or take an expensive, shorter deal in return, it’s increasingly possible.

Bottom line, though? Patrik Allvin clearly thinks the Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup challenging window is going to open in just a few years. And that’s quite the goal.

Bold Move Without Moving

In keeping Miller in Vancouver, the intent is unequivocal. They want him for his best years because they think that is the safer play. Getting untested rookies or unpredictable draft picks isn’t part of the plan. J.T. Miller’s contract isn’t about what he’s going to provide. He’s almost certainly reached his peak in offensive production and everyone knows it. So what the heck are they buying, if not that?

It’s hard to quantify “leadership” or “motivation” or any similar ambiguous descriptor. But the deal to Miller isn’t just for Miller. It’s a clarion to the rest of the team: Let’s Do This.

Thatcher Demko is 26 years old. Bo Horvat is 27, as is newly acquired Ilya Mikheyev. Brock Boeser is 25. Elias Pettersson is 23 and is expected to leap forward this year. Quinn Hughes is just 22. There are a couple of promising 21-year-olds on the team in Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin. In signing Miller, management is committing to a way forward, and that means trusting the future. They are going to come into this year with a fire under them because of one signature.

It stands in stark contrast to the disastrous 2020 offseason where the team followed up their first playoff success in eight years with money-saving moves that abandoned their unrestricted free agents. An obviously disspirited team crashed and burned the next year, and was headed straight for the same result in 2021-22. The complete overhaul at both coaching and management levels was all that salvaged their season.

This year? Expect anyone who isn’t fighting for every inch of ice to have a very short stay.

Hang onto your caps, folks. This is going to get wild.

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