Photo: NBC Sports
After the news that center Nicklas Backstrom underwent surgery to resurface his left hip came out on Saturday, the Washington Capitals have been linked to Vancouver Canucks right-wing J.T. Miller (who can also play center) and pending unrestricted free agent center Nazem Kadri, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Miller, 29, has one year left on his contract that pays him a bargain $5.25 million against the NHL salary cap. The Canucks are expected to trade him after signing 26-year-old left-wing Andrei Kuzmenko, who recorded 20 goals and 53 points in 45 games with SKA St. Petersburg this past season, out of the KHL on Monday. Thus, Miller has become expendable.
Miller shattered his previous career-highs with 32 goals, 67 assists, 99 points, a 54.1% faceoff-winning percentage, and a 51.03% expected goals-for percentage in 80 games for the Vancouver Canucks. Miller has earned at least 43 points in each of his seven full NHL seasons and has averaged 1.04, .87, and 1.24 points-per-game, respectively, in his three years in Vancouver. He averaged 3:19 on the Canucks’ power play and 2:05 on their penalty kill this past season. Acquiring Miller would not be cheap as he will likely cost a first-round pick, a top prospect, a bottom-six forward, and a lower pick to lure in.
Kadri is coming off of a career-year with the Colorado Avalanche where he shattered his previous personal highs in goals (28), assists (59), and points (87) in 71 games on a team that finished the regular season fourth in the NHL in goals-per-game (3.76). He also earned a 53.88% expected goals-for percentage and has six goals and 14 points in 13 games during their run to the Stanley Cup Final before suffering a thumb injury that required surgery in Game 3 against the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final. Prior to this season, the 32-year-old hit the 60-point mark just once (61 in 82 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016-17), though notched 32 goals in a season in back-to-back campaigns (2016-18).
Kadri, who has been suspended six times in his NHL career (four of which have come in the postseason), averaged 3:53 on the Avalanche’s power-play (third-most among forwards) and 28 seconds on their penalty kill (10th). He could demand around $8 million per season.
With Backstrom, right-wing Tom Wilson (torn ACL), and left-wing Carl Hagelin (eye injury) on long-term injured reserve, the Capitals could have $26,095,000 in salary cap space this offseason. Though, they will have to make room under the salary cap to activate Wilson ($5.17 million), who is expected to return some time between Thanksgiving and the NHL All-Star Break, and potentially Hagelin ($2.75 million) when they become available to play.
Right-wing Marcus Johansson (pending unrestricted free agent), left-wing Johan Larsson (UFA), defenseman Justin Schultz (UFA), defenseman Michal Kempny (UFA), defenseman Matt Irwin (UFA), goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov (restricted free agents) are all in need of new contracts.
In addition to a center, the Capitals are also expected to add a goaltender and trade one of Samsonov or Vanecek this offseason.
Elliotte Friedman on @DonnieandDhali on the Canucks : Lots of teams are around VAN. Capitals lost Backstrom, I have heard Kadri and Miller connected to them,
Miller will be a big contract, VAN is worried about term.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) June 21, 2022
By Harrison Brown