NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 3, 2022
The Canucks sign J.T. Miller to a seven-year contract extension, the Jets ink Sam Gagner to a one-year deal, the Oilers add Ryan Murray on a one-year contract, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Canucks signed J.T. Miller on Friday to a seven-year, $56 million contract extension that goes into effect in 2023-24. The average annual value is $8 million and includes a no-movement clause throughout the deal, with a full no-trade clause for the first four years and a modified NTC over the final three.
Miller, 29, is in the final season of his current contract with an AAV of $5.25 million. He would’ve become an unrestricted free agent next July. As a result, he was the subject of media trade speculation for months amid reports that Canucks management wanted to retool around younger, more affordable talent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller tallied a team-leading, career-best 99 points last season. If his production were to drop to between 70-80 points for the coming season, he still would’ve been in line for over $9 million annually if he had hit the open market next summer. His strong two-way game and ability to play center or left wing would’ve drawn plenty of suitors willing to pay big bucks for his services.
Miller’s agent, Brian Bartlett, said this deal came together very quickly after weeks of on-and-off negotiations. He indicated that his client wanted to stay in Vancouver and help the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. It was also Miller’s idea to accept less than market value.
Nevertheless, this is a hefty long-term investment by the Canucks on a talented player who will be 30 when this deal goes into effect. He should still provide solid value for them in the first half but that contract could become burdensome against their cap in the latter years when his performance will likely decline.
Miller’s new contract could also affect efforts to re-sign captain Bo Horvat, who is slated to become a UFA next summer. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $68 million invested in 14 players for 2023-24 with the cap expected to increase by just $1 million to $83.5 million. Horvat’s current AAV is $5.5 million and he could seek around $7.5 million annually, which would take a big bite out of their cap space.
Still, the Canucks were willing to spend to keep their best player in the fold. The move signals to their fans that they believe they’re a playoff contender heading into the coming season and beyond. If Miller can help them become Cup contenders, it will be money well spent.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed free agent Sam Gagner to a one-year, $750K contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable depth move by the Jets. The 33-year-old Gagner can play at center or right wing and still has solid two-way skills. He’s coming off a respectable 31-point performance last season with the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings.
TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed defenseman Ryan Murray to a one-year, $750K deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chosen second overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2012 NHL Draft, Murray’s NHL career has been frequently hampered by injuries. The most recent was a fractured hand last season while playing with the Colorado Avalanche. Still, he should be a decent cost-effective depth addition on the Oilers’ third pairing.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are bringing back Jimmy Vesey on a professional tryout contract. He began his NHL career with the Blueshirts in 2016-17 and spent three seasons with them before moving on to the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues are bringing Tyler Pitlick to training camp later this month on a professional tryout offer. The well-traveled forward has played for the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens over the past four seasons.