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Miller sees 'tons of potential' after trade to Canucks

Forward excited to play with Boeser, Pettersson

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- J.T. Miller is excited for the chance to play with the young talent of the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks acquired the 26-year-old forward from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday for goalie Marek Mazanec, a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft (Tampa Bay selected goalie Hugo Alnefelt) and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. If Vancouver does not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs next season, the first-round selection will be in the 2021 NHL Draft.

"Every time we play against the Canucks I look at so much young talent," Miller said. "It's always fun to play against these guys, and now to be a part of it is going to be really cool."

 

[RELATED: Miller traded to Canucks by Lightning]

 

That young talent includes forwards Brock Boeser, a 22-year-old forward who was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 2017-18, and Elias Pettersson, a 20-year-old center who won the award this season. After playing most of the season on the third line with the Lightning, Miller is looking forward to that chance, even if means going from a Cup favorite to a team that hasn't made the playoffs in four seasons.

"I've thought about how awesome an opportunity this could be for me," Miller said. "There's tons of potential in this team and I am going to do everything I can to help push for the playoffs."

Selected by the New York Rangers in the first round (No. 15) of the 2011 NHL Draft, Miller has 237 points (95 goals, 142 assists) in 435 games with New York and Tampa Bay and 26 points (three goals, 23 assists) in 61 NHL playoff games. He averaged 20 goals and 51 points over the past four seasons, and had 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 19 games for the Lightning after he was acquired from the Rangers prior to the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline. 

Miller's numbers dropped to 13 goals and 47 points in 75 games in a reduced role with the Presidents' Trophy-winning Lightning this season, but he sees himself rebounding with the Canucks. 

Video: J.T. Miller is headed to Vancouver

"Ceiling-wise, I have proven I have a good enough shot to beat goalies in the National Hockey League, so if I am shooting the puck, I think I've got low-20s (goals) a couple years in a row, so I'd like to get more than that," said Miller, who scored 22, 22 and 23 goals in three seasons from 2015-18. "I don't know if I want to put an exact number on production, but I do think playing consistent hockey goes a long way, and sometimes it's not always on the score sheet."

Miller has four seasons remaining on a five-year, $26.25 million contract (average annual value of $5.25 million) he signed with Tampa Bay on June 26, 2018.

"Up until last year, when I took a different role and the time on ice went down a lot (from 17:01 per game in 2017-18 to 14:40 this season), up until then I was trying to get better every year, produce more every year and be a consistent hockey player," he said. "But even though last year production-wise was a little short of years prior, I thought it might have been one of my most consistent years playing a complete game."

That's something the Canucks covet, citing Miller's versatility as a forward who can play all three positions. If he's not on a line with Pettersson and Boeser, Miller could find himself playing the wing with center Bo Horvat, or center on the third line. He will also get opportunities to help a power play that ranks 30th in the NHL over the past four seasons at 17.2 percent and is being counted on to provide additional leadership to the young forwards.

"That was one of the first things I thought about after I was able to wrap my head around the new situation and the team it was," Miller said. "A lot of these young guys have all the tools to be awesome hockey players, but to be able to help them make the most out of what they bring to the table, there are so many little things you learn that I think I can help with."

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