NHL Rumor Mill – April 6, 2023
Could the Canucks and Penguins revisit their trade talks regarding J.T. Miller? Could the Leafs face another summer goalie change? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
COULD THE CANUCKS AND PENGUINS RESUME THEIR J.T. MILLER TRADE TALK?
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance considers the clarification of J.T. Miller’s future should be on the Vancouver Canucks’ offseason “to-do” list.
Miller’s seven-year contract extension with its full no-trade clause begins on July 1. Drance wondered if the Canucks could revisit trading the 30-year-old forward based on the rumors that swirled about him leading up to the March 3 trade deadline.
A number of sources reported the Canucks had substantive talks with the Pittsburgh Penguins about Miller. It’s believed they initiated those discussions with the Penguins.
Drance believes the Miller trade speculation could increase during the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft in late June. However, he’s skeptical about his trade value given the $56 million contract attached to him.
SPORTSNET 650: Mike Halford and Jason Brough also discussed Miller’s uncertain future in Vancouver and the rumors linking him to the Penguins. They believe the speculation linking Miller to Pittsburgh made perfect sense given that club’s inevitable decline and their need to eventually replace Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins could retool their roster this summer to build up the supporting cast around Crosby, Malkin and Letang. Cap Friendly shows them with over $20 million in projected cap space for 2023-24 with 14 roster players under contract. They must also address their goaltending situation with Tristan Jarry eligible for unrestricted free-agent status.
The Penguins could afford to take on Miller’s $8 million cap hit but I think they’ll want the Canucks to take back a contract as well. Maybe they try to get them to take on Mikael Granlund’s $5 million cap hit through 2024-25.
Granlund lacks no-trade protection and has struggled to adjust to the Penguins system since joining them at the trade deadline. Maybe the Canucks take him on simply because he’s only got two years left on his contract and would cost $3 million less per season than Miller.
ANOTHER SUMMER OF GOALIE CHANGE FOR THE LEAFS?
SPORTSNET: In a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs might attempt to move Matt Murray and go with a goaltending tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll for next season.
Fox believes they could depending on how their current goalies perform in the playoffs. He pointed out that the Leafs aren’t afraid to pay to correct a mistake as they did last summer bundling a first-round pick with Petr Mrazek to ship him to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Murray could be traded to a team needing to reach next season’s salary-cap minimum. The Leafs could also buy out the final season of his contract, which would be more affordable thanks to the Ottawa Senators retaining part of his annual average value. A buyout would cost the Leafs just $687,500 for 2023-24 and $2 million in 2024-25 when the salary cap is expected to spike.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s frequent absences due to injuries could make him difficult to move this summer even to a budget club looking to stay close to the cap floor. A buyout could be the easiest route provided he’s not on long-term injury reserve when the first buyout window opens on June 15.