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Canucks spend big for J.T. Miller, plus Day 2 draft rundown and UFA chatter

June 23, 2019, 3:36 PM ET [1093 Comments]
Carol Schram
Vancouver Canucks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The biggest deal of Day 2 of the NHL Draft was P.K. Subban's trade to the New Jersey Devils, but I'd rank the Canucks' deal to acquire J.T. Miller second.

As I wrote in my breakdown of winners and losers at the draft for Forbes.com, I think that's a high price. The Lightning made no bones about the fact that they needed to shed cap space, so for Jim Benning to give up a future first-round pick AND a third-rounder when New Jersey was able to get a superstar in P.K. Subban for two second-rounders and two mid-grade prospects, I shake my head.

And I like Miller well enough. He's versatile—plays all forward positions. He's big and feisty—6'1" and 218 pounds, and not afraid to use his body. He was a 20-goal guy for three-straight seasons between 2016 and 2018. Last season, he chipped in 34 assists with the Lightning—a typical number for him—but saw his production drop to just 13 goals in 75 games as his ice time dropped by about two minutes a game compared to what he'd been used to with the Rangers. Even with his versatility, it was tougher for him to find a place to play on that stacked Lightning club.

Miller did see quite a bit of power-play time in Tampa last year, but he's a left shot, which may not be ideal for a spot on Vancouver's PP1. He didn't kill penalties in Tampa but he did with the Rangers and had three shorthanded goals in 2016-17.

I feel like Miller was blossoming into a productive power forward during his time in New York, but didn't quite acclimate to the Lightning's program. That's all the more reason why I don't think Jim Benning should have been required to give up top dollar to acquire him.

Of course, we don't know which others teams were in the mix and what other bids might have been on the table. If the deal was at risk of slipping away, that may have been what caused Benning to pull the trigger.

To his credit—I think—it sounds like he refused to meet Joe Sakic's asking price for one year of Tyson Barrie on Friday.

Even though I was able to get great value from the Avs in the HockeyBuzz Mock Draft, it seems like the real Joe Sakic is a much tougher negotiator—and patient, too.

Exhibit A: the return he extracted for Matt Duchene.

Barrie could certainly fill a need for Vancouver, but I bet if we knew what Sakic was asking for, we'd say no too.

Despite the Canucks' need to upgrade on the blue line, they didn't draft a single defenseman this weekend. But as expected, they're in the thick of things with Tyler Myers and Jake Gardiner, who share an agent, as the UFA talking-period opens on Sunday.

To finish up today—a quick rundown of the Canucks' Day 2 draft picks, and one other trade acquisition:

Second round - No. 40 - Swedish winger Nils Hoglander

On the small size at 5'9" and 185 pounds, Hoglander is said to be a feisty winger who isn't afraid to play with a physical element to his game, and is a great puckhandler with a knack for scoring spectacular goals. Playing with men, he had 14 points in 50 games with Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League last season.

Fourth round - No. 122 - Canadian winger Ethan Keppen

A big boy at 6'2" and 212 pounds, Keppen grew up in the Toronto area and had 30 goals and 59 points for the Flint Firebirds last season—tied for second in team scoring in his second year in the OHL.

Fifth round - No. 133 - Canadian centre Carson Focht

Focht turned 19 in February, and was traded to the WHL's Calgary Hitmen midway through the 2017-18 season, after a year and a half with the Tri-City Americans. He was second on the Hitmen last season in goals (26) and points (64), and second among forwards with 68 penalty minutes. He tied for the team lead with nine points in 11 games in the WHL playoffs.

Sixth round - No. 156 - Latvian goalie Arturs Silovs

I've never heard of this guy, but I instantly love this pick. His name evokes memories of the amazing Arturs Irbe, but Silovs has him beat in the size department at 6'4" and 203 pounds. Latvia also has another super goalie prospect, Elvis Merzlikins, likely ready to crack the NHL this season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. With international teams that tend to be short on true offensive skill, Latvia has success when its goaltending is above expectations—and that seems to happen more often than one would expect. Hopefully Silovs can carry on the tradition.

Sixth round - No. 175 - Czech winger Karel Plasek

This kid may have been selected for the sole purpose of making Elias Pettersson look rugged. Plasek has decent hockey height at 5'11", but is listed at just 153 pounds. Despite that, he was ranked No. 43 on Central Scouting's list of European Skaters for the draft. His father, also named Karel Plasek, is now 45 and apparently drinks from the Jaromir Jagr fountain of youth. He's also still playing, in the third-division Czech League, where he had 40 points in 38 games last year.

Sixth round - No. 180 - USHL winger Jack Malone

Ranked at No. 82 among North American skaters by Central Scouting, Malone is a California kid who has good size at 6'1" and 192 pounds. He's at the older end of his draft year—he'll turn 19 in October—and is committed to Cornell in the fall. Malone is a playmaker who was second in scoring on the Youngstown Phantoms last season with 19-40-59 in 57 games.

Seventh round - No. 195 - American winger Aidan Mcdonough

An overager from Massachusetts who turns 20 in November, Mcdonough went through the prep school route before joining the Cedar Rapids Roughriders of the USHL last season. There, he had 42 points in 50 games, but stepped up his production with seven points in six games in the playoffs. Mcdonough will be joining Tyler Madden at Northeastern next season.

Seventh round - No. 215 - Swedish centre Arvid Costmar

Late-round steal? Ranked 85th among European skaters by Central Scouting, Costmar just won a gold medal with Sweden at the 2019 U18 tournament, where he had one assist in three games. He was also on Sweden's 2018-19 team at last summer's Hlinka/Gretzky Cup, where he had one assist in five games. And Costmar's still just 17—he doesn't turn 18 until July 7.

Strong at the U20 level with Linkoping last season, Costmar also played four games with the big club at the SHL level. Seems like he could be ahead of the curve for a kid his age—perhaps linked more closely to the promising crop of 2020 prospects that drove the bus for Sweden at U18s?

On Saturday, the Canucks also traded for Francis Perron—a 23-year-old winger who was originally drafted in the 7th round by Ottawa in 2014 and was dealt to San Jose last year as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. In junior, Perron had a good run in the QMJHL, winning a league title and being named regular-season and playoff MVP with Rouyn-Noranda in 2015-16.

Last season was his best so far in the AHL, with 18 goals and 47 points in 63 games with the San Jose Barracuda. He's an RFA, and will need waivers to be sent down to the minors this year.
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