The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Go Big With J.T Miller

OTTAWA, ONTARIO - DECEMBER 01: J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on December 01, 2021 in Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ONTARIO - DECEMBER 01: J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks skates with the puck against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on December 01, 2021 in Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

Though of course the Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to avenge a recent loss to the Canucks, and of course to un-embarrass themselves after the debacle against Buffalo the other night, the main focus will be on J.T Miller.

The Canucks are not likely to be a playoff team, and therefore they might want to pick up some assets for a player unlikely to be still good by the time they’re competitive again.

And of course, us Leafs fans are drooling at the prospect, with good reason.

Toronto Maple Leafs and JT Miller

Although J.T Miller plays centre for the Vancouver Canucks, on the Leafs he’d likely take up the left-wing position next to John Tavares.  As evidence that the Leafs will consider adding a left-winger to the top of their lineup, I present to you the following tweet:

I am a big fan of Nick Robertson, but if he’s good enough to play on the second line of a competitive team, then dropping him down to the third or fourth line will just make the team even better.

J.T Miller is the second best forward likely to be available this season.  The best is Claude Giroux, but the fit is so much better with Miller that you almost can believe it will really happen.

Miller is a monster. He is the embodiment of the type of player people mean when they talk about “playoff type players” –  just ignore the fact that he only has 9 goals in 78 career playoff games.

To be honest,  you really should ignore that.  Most of those games were played before he really broke out, and Miller is a much different player today than he was during his early  years with the Rangers.  Miller is the kind of never-say-die I think people really respond to, and the Leafs could surely use such a type – especially one who scores as much as Miller.

In two of the last three seasons, Miller has been a point per game player (which is less common than people seem to think). He is currently on pace for a career season, with 21 goals and 61 points in 54 games to date.

More on Miller

Miller is an interesting case study statistically.  He is bad at defense, and he’s only so-so at driving 5v5 offense.  Where he shines is that he’s a finisher.  Goals get scored when he’s on the ice: In the last eight seasons, Miller has only posted a positive Expected Goals rating three times, and yet his team has scored more with him on the ice than they’ve allowed in seven of eight years. That is extremely uncommon.  (stats

Why does this happen? Cause the dude drives the net. He scores garbage goals and he will bite your neck and gouge your eyes to make it happen. OK maybe not, but you get the point.  The Leafs don’t have anything close to this element.

He will not only provide a missing element, he can play both centre and wing.  If you wanted, you could destroy teams with  Matthews-Tavares-Miller down the middle (which is exactly what I’d do). He protects you from injury, because he’s an elite player you wouldn’t necessarily be counting on, and therefore if a star goes down, you’ve got at least some insurance.

He will also inspire everyone on the team to play better, because if you see him bite someone or stab them or whatever, you’re going to feel pretty lame just skating back to the bench with your head down. Miller will quite possibly lose teeth and then put them back in on the bench, by himself, using an Elmer’s Glue Stick he pilfered from his son’s pencil case.

The only caveat for the Leafs here is that he isn’t good at defense – which could mean icing either a brutal defensive second line or breaking up the first line – and half his goals have come on the power-play, where they already rank first.

Still, for the kind of game he plays, and the cheap cost of his contract $5.25, and the fact he wouldn’t be a rental (he is signed through next year) it’s an extremely temping player.

You can trade Kerfoot and Holl and the salary is more or less even.  The Canucks would probably want a couple first rounders, or a first rounder and Nick Robertson.  Whatever. Pay up. You’re not getting a better chance to win the Cup, so you might as well go big.

Next. Five Trade Targets for the Leafs This Year. dark

Miller checks a lot of boxes and will make the Toronto Maple Leafs even harder to play against. If they trade for him, he’ll be everyone’s favorite player within a week.