In his latest article for The Athletic, Vancouver based columnist and broadcaster Mike Halford dissects the defense corps of the Vancouver Canucks and puts forth several predictions for how the team could and should move forward this offseason with regards to their blue line.
Halford astutely points out that since he was hired in 2014, Canucks general manager Jim Benning has gone fishing for a right handed defenseman with a big point shot to play the power play in Vancouver several times.
He went fishing with the Adam Clendening acquisition, which didn’t turn out. Same can be said of the Philip Larsen deal. Now yes, these could be considered rod-off-the-dock expeditions rather than deep-sea hunting, but the fact remains — regardless of the search, the Canucks haven’t had a booming RH shot on the blueline since the halcyon days of Sami Salo.
Could Benning go fishing again this offseason? If he does, Halford believes there’s one fish in particular he should be looking to land: Colin Miller of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 25 year old, right handed blue liner put up a remarkable 10 goals and 41 points during his first season in Vegas, after being selected by the team in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft from the Boston Bruins.
There’s no denying that Miller is a skilled player, so… why would Vegas look to trade him? Well, with his $1 million annual deal expiring on July 1st, he’ll be in line for a significant raise. With William Karlsson, James Neal and David Perron also knocking at the door for raises… something’s got to give. Throw in the fact that the Knights have Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb ahead of Miller on the depth chart and… well again, something’s got to give.
So, what’s the ask?
The X-factor, of course, is what Vegas would want in return. D-men that are 25 and coming off a 41-point campaign don’t grow on trees, and McPhee knows it.
Among the options according to Halford are trading or moving down in the draft from the 7th overall selection, or by targeting Miller though an RFA offer sheet.
The NHL has yet to release the compensatory scale for this year’s offer sheets, so let’s work off last year’s. In the case of Miller, the Canucks could theoretically sign him to a deal with an AAV between $1,962,987 and $3,925,975, which — again, based on last year — would cost them a second-round pick at the draft.
An interesting proposition, but let’s get real… nobody in the NHL signs offer sheets anymore.
Ultimately, this trade rumor is just speculation and even Halford himself admits as much.
Going after Miller is pure speculation at this point, but it feels something to consider. Call it a fishing expedition if you want, but remember that Benning’s been doing much of the same over the last four years.