The Minnesota Wild are sitting pretty on top of the Central Division and are certainly going to attempt a deep playoff run, when it gets there. But before that, they are eyeing up any trade possibilities to improve this team, and the latest rumor is snatching Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller from the team that is in a terrible downward spiral.
According to The Province, the Wild have called the Canucks about acquiring the 28-year-old forward. After this season, Miller has one year remaining on his contract that carries a cap hit of $5.25 million—but at least it wouldn’t be a hypothetical pure rental trade and a team that is in desperate need of a solidifying top-six forward, will get that for two full (potential) runs in the postseason.
In the same report, Kevin Fiala’s name was brought up as the potential cost for Miller, and with his upcoming restricted free agency, head coach Dean Evason benching him at points during a recent game, and just the general apathy that the management team has for the player, a potential trade before this year’s March 21 trade deadline. The Province even goes as far as to hypothesize Fiala and their 2022 second-round pick for Miller. That is a proposition that will no doubt be debated amongst the two fan bases and will result in a clashing of heads.
The point is, for the Wild to sacrifice just three years in age, for a player that would be their best offensive option at the center position (oh yeah, he plays center as well as wing) and has the exact same amount of contractual control as Fiala. Both Miller and Fiala are going to be heading to unrestricted free agency in 2023, and with the team’s evident hesitancy to commit long-term to him, Fiala will most likely be heading out of Minnesota at that time anyway.
Before Vancouver, Miller was slotted as a depth player on the Tampa Bay Lightning and was still able to put up 47 points in 74 games while averaging 14:40 TOI. As soon as he moved to the Canucks, his offense exploded with the larger role—with 137 points in 141 games, Miller is certainly able to put some pucks in the back of the net.
If it is indeed Fiala that moves to Vancouver, then it wouldn’t necessarily be a bet on trading the typical prospect or young player for a veteran, but just getting a much more established player and solid option down the middle, for a guy that has either been the best player on the planet or completely invisible during his time in Minnesota. It’s unfortunate that what the Wild have done so far with Fiala—not giving him any sort of financial security and keeping him on a short leash—really spell out an inevitable trade.
Miller would be the best option to really go for it and hopefully not giving up the future of this team. Giving this team two solid years of reliable offense is good enough reason to really target a trade.