With the trade deadline about a month away, the New York Rangers are looking for a few pieces to improve the team now and in the future. Could a trade for Vancouver’s J.T. Miller be the answer?
The New York Rangers have been looking for a top-six forward since Sammy Blais suffered a season-ending injury at the beginning of the season. They also have been addressing the Ryan Strome contract that might see them trading the veteran that would leave a gaping hole at the center position.
Let the J.T. Miller conversation begin as he could fill both needs if the opportunity comes about.
Return of a Familiar Face
Miller previously played 341 games for the Rangers from 2012 until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. He was then moved to the Vancouver Canucks in 2019 where he has become the main focal point of their club.
The Canucks have struggled this season and though not out of the playoff hunt entirely, it will be a long shot for them to make the playoffs this season. Miller is a point-per-game player this season ( 17G-31A-48 Pts. in 47 games) and has one year remaining on his contract that has a cap hit of $5.25 million.
He would slide right into a right-wing spot that the Rangers have been looking for all season. The Athletics Arthur Staple also indicates that if negotiations with Ryans Strome fall through and he is traded, Miller could step into the second-line center position to fill in Strome’s role with Artemi Panarin.
Miller, who turns 29 in March, would be on the top of the Rangers list should Vancouver decide to move him within the next few weeks. Staple indicated in his report that the Blueshirts have asked about his availability as have other NHL teams. The question that needs to be asked and answered is what in return would the Canucks want?
Prospects, Picks & Players
A trade for Miller would most likely involve the all too familiar prospect, pick, and player formula. General Manager Chris Drury would probably be willing to give up a 2022 first-round pick, and perhaps Nils Lundkvist to start. Lundkvist seems to have become the expendable defenseman with the emergence of Mathew Schnieder and Zac Jones.
From the prospect category, Vitali Kravtsov’s name is at the forefront to be moved. He has been playing in the KHL since the end of training camp when he was cut from the roster. Kravtsov has voiced his displeasure with the Rangers and had indicated he would report to any club should the Blueshirts trade him.
It’s unlikely that this would be enough to make the deal especially if the Canucks wait to see what other teams would be willing to send them to complete a trade.
A current roster player will most likely have to be added to entice Vancouver to send Miller back to his former team.
The Rangers could be willing to move Filip Chytil or Julian Gauthier to complete this transaction, but would they consider a struggling Kaapo Kakko (currently on IR for the next month)?
Head coach Gerrard Gallant has said that he has been happy with the play of Kakko even though he has not put up a lot of points this season. The 20-year-old first-round draft pick in 2019 has been bounced around from the fourth line to the first line and everywhere in between with the coaching staff trying to get him scoring goals and producing more points.
Though it would seem too early to give up on him, a player of his potential might be needed to complete a deal for Miller.
Drury will have to figure out who he is willing to move off the roster should he make any deal to improve the team. This club has 30 wins on the year but the hardest part of their schedule is still in front of them and he knows the team needs to get better if they want to make a deep playoff run.
Miller could be a viable missing piece to this team, but would a second tenure with the club improve Millers’ game to the point of improving the Ranger’s position in the standings?
The General Manager’s decision will be crucial to the future of the organization.