NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2023

by | Mar 15, 2023 | Rumors | 12 comments

More speculation over the futures of Canucks forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser plus concern over what next season’s salary cap will look like in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Thomas Drance was asked about the chances of the Vancouver Canucks moving J.T. Miller before his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Drance believes Miller’s hefty contract (seven years, $56 million commencing July 1) would make teams wary of adding a liability of that size to the books. However, he also suspects there could be some clubs that might sense a potential bargain and hope to get paid a sweetener by the Canucks to take Miller’s contract off their hands.

Suspecting Miller’s trade value could be limited before his NTC begins, Drance thinks Miller is moveable in a package where the Canucks retain part of his salary, pays a sweetener, or takes back a lesser player on an inefficient contract. However, he’s skeptical the Canucks will move him when they’re prioritizing winning in the short term.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t disagree with those scenarios. A Miller trade is possible and, as Drance pointed out, there were reports before the trade deadline that the Canucks were looking into it.

However, that’s a contract that might not be easy to move before July 1. Given their reluctance to retain salary to move Brock Boeser before the trade deadline, they’ll likely want an interested club to take the full amount of Miller’s contract. They won’t want to part with a first-round pick or a top prospect as a sweetener, but they also don’t want to take back a bad contract in return.

Asked about the best routes for the Canucks to clear cap space for next season, Drance suggested buyouts as one method. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland could be worth watching when the first buyout window opens on June 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are more likely to try trading Boeser or Garland than buy them out. Ekmar-Larsson is a prime candidate but, as Cap Friendly points out, it’ll be on their books for eight seasons, with a $4.76 million cap hit in 2025-26 and 2026-27.

THE PROVINCE: In a Q&A with Ben Kuzma, Canucks winger Brock Boeser revealed he’s working through “some mental stuff” on a personal level following the death of his father last year. He admitted that affected his game over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old winger also acknowledged seeing his name in trade rumors this season also affected his performance.

Boeser said it was a relief when he knew he would be staying in Vancouver. He’s in the first season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $6.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s on-ice struggles this season affected his trade value but there were teams reportedly interested in him, including his hometown Minnesota Wild. However, the Canucks were said to be unwilling to retain a portion of his annual cap hit to facilitate a trade. General manager Patrik Allvin also said that he would be comfortable retaining Boeser and working with him to help him regain his scoring form.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli speculates NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could face some pressure from team owners about potentially increasing the salary cap above the projected $1 million raise to $83.5 million for 2023-24.

Seravalli doesn’t expect Bettman will provide any answers about that when he addresses the media today following the three-day meeting of NHL general managers. He anticipates the commissioner will say that calculations and projections for next season aren’t final or on track yet to reduce the players’ escrow debt to the owners to a negligible level.

Nevertheless, Seravalli thinks Bettman could get some heat from the NHL executive committee to get into negotiations with the NHL Players Association about finding a way to raise the cap by more than just $1 million for the fourth straight season. He pointed out that the players’ debt to the owners would likely be paid off within the first few weeks of next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An increase in next season’s cap by more than $1 million would have a significant effect on this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. Teams would suddenly have much more cap space to work with, which in turn will affect what moves they can make to improve their rosters for 2023-24.


  1. Is there anyone who understands the escrow thing? and why are the players in debt to the owners?

    • Here’s a short and nasty explanation. Per the CBA, players get a percentage of all hockey related revenue. When total player salaries exceed that percentage, the players must “pay back” the excess. Which, in reality, means a percentage of each player’s salary is withheld. I’m sure there’s somewhere on the web with all the tiny details, but I’ve given you the essentials.

      • Thanks, now I have a better idea of what this is all about.

      • To add to Paul’s brief explanation, the players’ share of revenue after the COVID-shortened season of 2019-20 considerably exceeded the owners’ share. The league asked the players to pay more in escrow than originally agreed upon for 2020-21 and 2021-22 which would’ve made the owners’ whole by 2022 and thus would’ve resulted in larger increases in the salary cap more quickly. However, the players rejected it, meaning they’re paying back their share over a long time, meaning the cap only rises by $1 million per season until the owners are made whole.

    • When this all started due to the strike, players had the option of paying down the debt or pass it to the next generation. So they did. Older players refused to take a hit for the NXT group so these guys are stuck paying off the debt

  2. I think an OEL buyout would be a good idea. I know it’s a risk to rely on the cap going up, but this next season and the season after the cap is supposed to go up marginally. This is where the Canucks will get the majority of their cap savings by buying out OEL.

    • The Q should, can OEL play on a 3rd pair and do it good and are the Canucks really going to contend next season? Since I just dont see them contend, why buy him out? Now if they can and to do that they need his cap hit, they should go for it

  3. Crazy how much of a liability that JT Miller contract is and it literally hasn’t even started yet!
    I really think there is going to be an issue in the next CBA negotiations about including new/better clauses for teams and owners to get out of some of these contracts (more buy outs, less cap-penalty for buyouts, etc). Something has to change.

    • The gms signing the deals have to change.

  4. There is a “syndrome” when hockey players sign big contracts . Almost every one has a set back of some degree I that first year. I say give them an extra year and if no change then maybe you have a problem

    • Is there though? Kinda like the sophomore slump I’d like to see sustained proof instead of the exceptions proving the rule.