NHL Rumors: Canadiens ready to unload, J.T Miller trade market, and Caps in on Zacha

The Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames made the first significant trade since Jack Eichel was acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Jeff Gorton, who led the New York Rangers rebuild, worked with rookie GM Kent Hughes to maximize a return for 29 year-old power forward Tyler Toffoli.

NHL Rumors: Canadiens ready to start dealing

The Calgary Flames acquired Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday in exchange for a package of players and picks, including a protected 2022 first-rounder.

Also going to Montreal in the deal are journeyman forward Tyler Pitlick, prospect Emil Heineman and a 2025 fifth-round pick. Calgary’s first round pick is protected if it lands in the top ten. If they protect it, the Habs will get a first-round pick in 2023 as well as a fourth-rounder in 2024.

There was also some rumblings that the Flames were also trying to acquire defenseman Ben Chiarot, who just landed on IR with a lower-body issue. The deal fell apart due to cap issues.

According to multiple insiders, the Canadiens are working the phones and trying to unload several other players. On the block are the following:

  • Ben Chiarot (D – UFA)
  • Jeff Petry (D)
  • Brendan Gallagher (F)
  • Jonathan Drouin (F)
  • Mike Hoffman (F)
  • Artturi Lehkonen (F – RFA)

It sounds like to me that Jeff Gorton is looking for young players and prospects to fuel the rebuild in Montreal. The Habs are looking to get ahead of the trade market to avoid competition with other future sellers.

J.T. Miller trade market

nhl rumors
Dec 29, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (9) is congratulated by left wing Tanner Pearson (70) after scoring a goal in the overtime period of the game to defeat the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The trade of Toffoli, who has an AAV of only $4.25M for another two seasons helps set the market on good players with term.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller is exactly one of those players and his price most certainly went up. With Toffoli landing four pieces, including a first round pick and a highly touted prospect, the Canucks should expect a better return.

Miller, 28, has one more year left on his deal worth $5.25M before becoming a UFA. He’s also been extremely productive with 48 points in 47 games for Vancouver this season. Of course, teams that want him need to start making serious offers.

“My sense of that situation is that if you are a contender that plans to bid on J.T. Miller closer to the March 21 trade deadline, you better make your best deal before that,” Pierre LeBrun said on TSN’s Insider Trading.

Teams that have been reportedly in on Miller are the Rangers, Flames, and Bruins. Calgary’s acquisition of Toffoli takes them out of the mix.

The rumored price is set at a first round pick, player, and top prospect.

Capitals interested in Zacha

Devils’ forward Pavel Zacha is garnering interest by several teams as we approach the trade deadline. New Jersey is overstocked at the center position and the young pivot is being made available.

Zacha, 24, has 22 points in 45 games this season. His current cap hit is $2.25 Million.

“The Vancouver Canucks have interest in, or at least curious about is Pavel Zacha,” Jeff Marek said. “He is an impending RFA, but he’s one year away from becoming a UFA. He can take his qualifying offer and walk after a year.”

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Capitals are also in the mix for his services. I noted yesterday, that the Rangers may see a fit as well.