Speculation over the futures of J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser dogged the Vancouver Canucks forwards this season. While this season's trade deadline has passed, they will likely remain fodder for off-season trade rumors.
Miller is among the main reasons the Canucks remain in the playoff race, leading his club with a career-high 80 points in 66 games. He has a year remaining on his contract worth $5.25 million.
The Province's Ben Kuzma indicated those factors were among the reasons teams such as the New York Rangers were keen to acquire Miller before the trade deadline. He thinks the Canucks cannot afford to let the 29-year-old center depart next summer as an unrestricted free agent.
Signing Miller, however, will be expensive. Kuzma expects he's in line for a five- or six-year deal at $8-million per season comparable to the New York Rangers' Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl.
Finding sufficient cap space to retain Miller in 2023 could be difficult. With Bo Horvat also slated to become a UFA next summer and Brock Boeser becoming a restricted free agent in July, Kuzma believes the Canucks will have to get creative.
One way could be getting Boeser to agree to a new contract with an annual average value worth less than the $7.5 million it'll require to qualify his rights this summer. Kuzma's colleague Patrick Johnston reported there's been no progress thus far in contract talks between the two sides.
The Canucks could look into trading Boeser this summer if negotiations remain stalled. However, potential trade partners would likely prefer speaking to the winger about a contract before agreeing to acquire him. Other options could include moving forwards signed beyond 2023-24 such as Conor Garland and Tanner Pearson.