Toronto Maple Leafs trade rumours: Would adding J.T. Miller make sense?

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (9) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period at: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (9) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first period at: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

J.T. Miller’s name has come up as a potential trade option for the Toronto Maple Leafs but is it the right move for the team to pursue at the deadline?

All season long, it’s been made known that the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ biggest need ahead of the NHL trade deadline is a top-four right-shot defenceman. 

So it came as a bit of a surprise when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller as a potential trade target ahead of the trade deadline. It’s an intriguing name to bring up especially given that there is a lot of uncertainty as to whether Miller will even be traded before the March 21st deadline.

What has opened up this possibility? Jake Muzzin’s latest injury might keep him out of the lineup for an extended period. If that does happen, the Leafs would likely place him on LTIR and open up $5.625 million in salary-cap space.

That would easily fit in Miller’s $5.25 million cap hit for the rest of the season but the Leafs will also have to consider the fact that he is signed until the end of the 2022-23 season. However, if the Leafs to add a player that is capable of improving their top-six, Miller would be a massive boost in many ways.

He would bring some much-needed versatility as a player that can play on the wing and down the middle and is having another great season with 18 goals and 53 points in 50 games. He would also bring some playoff experience and isn’t a defensive liability which would be helpful for the second line.

What would a J.T. Miller trade cost the Toronto Maple Leafs and is it the right move?

You have to think a first-round pick would be the first thing the Canucks ask for in a deal. Toronto would likely want to include some salary going the other way like Alexander Kerfoot and then a prospect to get the deal done.

Which prospect would Vancouver target in the Leafs system? Nick Robertson, Topi Niemelä, Matthew Knies, and Roni Hirvonen would top the list as Toronto’s top options and Cam Robertson of Elite Prospects believes that Niemelä would be the logical choice.

That is a high price to pay but when you consider that Miller is signed beyond this season, the Canucks need to be enticed to move the 28-year-old now rather than wait for the off-season.

The Leafs will also have some serious competition for Miller with the New York Rangers among the most interested in reuniting with their former first-round pick. The Boston Bruins are also a potential landing spot considering they have been looking for a second-line centre.

What also needs to be considered here is whether the Leafs should be using their assets to pursue another talented forward. If the Leafs can use a similar package to get a defenceman instead, that would likely serve the team more especially when you consider how much the blue line has struggled.

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Do you think the Leafs should be looking at making a trade for Miller? What would you be ok with giving up to the Canucks? Let us know in the comments below.