Rangers take on Canucks as trade rumors swirl around J.T. Miller

j.t. miller trade rumors
Nov 2, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (9) scores on New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) in the third period at Rogers Arena. Canucks won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers look to bounce back from a tough loss in a playoff-like battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just a little over 24 hours later, they will take on the Vancouver Canucks.

Aside from the fact the Blueshirts are simply looking to pick up two points jockeying for better playoff position, there is even more intrigue in this contest.

In 2018, shortly after the New York Rangers announced they were embarking on a rebuilding phase, one of the players they moved at the trade deadline was J.T. Miller.

Four years later, the Rangers are in a tight playoff race and as the March 21 deadline inches closer, they could be buyers for players such as Miller.

Rangers take on Canucks and J.T. Miller

The Rangers are five points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the lead in the Metropolitan Division and may be among the more active teams ahead of the March 21 deadline. Last week, they were among several teams to inquire about Miller, whom they traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning four years ago along with defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

While any possible trade of Miller would likely be a few weeks away, the Rangers will shift the focus to avoiding consecutive losses for the sixth time this season after taking a 1-0 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon. Igor Shesterkin made 25 saves while allowing a power-play goal to Evgeni Malkin in the third period and the Rangers took 27 shots on goal in a game that featured a combined 82 hits and 10 penalties.

“It was fun. It was as close to a playoff-like physicality game that we’ve had,” New York’s Barclay Goodrow said.

New York’s last losing streak was a back-to-back set against Columbus and Minnesota Jan. 27-28 and since then the Rangers are 5-1-1 in their past seven games.

J.T. Miller to the Rangers trade rumors

rangers canucks
Nov 2, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (9) scores on New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) in the third period at Rogers Arena. Canucks won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Miller, 28, has one more year left on his deal worth $5.25M before becoming a UFA. He’s also been extremely productive for Vancouver this season. Of course, teams that want him need to start making serious offers.

“My sense of that situation is that if you are a contender that plans to bid on J.T. Miller closer to the March 21 trade deadline, you better make your best deal before that,” Pierre LeBrun said on TSN’s Insider Trading.

Teams that have been reportedly in on Miller are the Rangers, Flames, and Bruins. Calgary’s acquisition of Toffoli takes them out of the mix.

The rumored price is set at a first round pick, player, and top prospect. However, the most recent talk is the Canucks are asking for an additional piece. That has many feeling Vancouver is basically taking him off the table.

GM Chris Drury has a huge hole to fill in the top six. The injury to Kaapo Kakko, who is out at least a three more weeks only exacerbates an already huge problem on the right side. Of course, Miller is playing on the top line LW for Vancouver but is versatile enough to play any forward position effectively.

Miller will also provide an affordable insurance policy if the Rangers and Ryan Strome can not reach an agreement on an extension.

Canucks playing well under Bruce Boudreau

Vancouver is 17-7-4 under coach Bruce Boudreau and is entering a four-game road trip with seven wins in its past 11 games (7-3-1) since Jan. 25.

Despite the improvement since firing Travis Green on Dec. 6, the Canucks are five points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Canucks have scored at least five goals in five of those wins, including Thursday’s 7-1 win over the visiting Calgary Flames, who entered the game with a 10-game winning streak.

Miller played 341 regular-season games for the Rangers from 2013-18, leads Vancouver with 20 goals to go along with 57 points and is not a free agent until after next season. He totaled a career-high 72 points two seasons ago when he also scored 27 goals.

Eight of Miller’s goals are since Jan. 25 and, against the Flames, he scored twice and assisted on goals by Bo Horvat and Conor Garland.

“We just set a standard for ourselves for the rest of the year,” Miller said. “And that’s not by winning by six goals, but it’s playing the right way, being sharp on the special teams, being ready to start the game.”

Miller scored one of Vancouver’s three power-play goals in the second period and also tallied on a penalty shot and the Canucks head into their trip with eight power-play goals in their past 24 opportunities.

The Canucks are seeking their fifth straight win over the Rangers. They rallied for a 3-2 victory in Vancouver on Nov. 2 when Miller scored early in the second period and 2:22 into overtime.

Read More: Filip Chytil a healthy scratch raises trade questions.

NHL Trade Bait Tracker

Check out the latest NHL Trade Bait List as the March 21st Deadline draws near. Check it out here.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report