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NHL Trade Rumors: Is J.T. Miller about to become a Pittsburgh Penguin?

The Pens are wheeling and dealing and J.T. Miller’s name is popping up fast and furiously as a potential trade targer

NHL: JAN 10 Canucks at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Could J.T. Miller be a Pittsburgh Penguin player soon?

A lot of the dots are starting to come together.

First, the Post-Gazette reported today that the Pens and Vancouver Canucks have been talking trade.

The Penguins and the Vancouver Canucks recently engaged in trade discussions centered on J.T. Miller, the standout Canucks forward who tallied 99 points last season, two league sources told the Post-Gazette.

Per one of the sources, trade talks between the Penguins and Canucks reached an impasse. But they could be revisited prior to Friday’s trade deadline.

Pittsburgh came into the day with an estimated $1.95 million of available cap space, according to CapFriendly. That would grow to $2.1 million by Friday, being as the cap is calculated daily on a pro-rated basis and the team stands to gain a little more space with each passing day.

And, in fact, the Pens might be adding to that cap space in a major way with the news that they have placed Brock McGinn and Mark Friedman on waivers. If both clear and are assigned to the AHL, Pittsburgh gains $1.125 million from McGinn’s contract and $750k from Friedman — boosting their cap space to bring acquire around $3.8 million in salary for the rest of the season.

Miller’s current contract calls for a $5.25 million cap hit, which would mean to remain cap compliant, Pittsburgh would likely have to send someone like McGinn or Teddy Blueger and his $2.2 million hit out via a trade in order to fit Miller.

In another piece of news, Shayna Goldman had this bit of information. She’s been on the leading edge of many recent breaking stories around the league as of late.

“Wait due to cap management” aligns with almost exactly what the Pens have done by waiving McGinn and Friedman, and now they have to wait one day to find out if either or both are claimed or sticking with the organization.

(If all these stars are aligning, it could possibly be a bad sign that Pittsburgh couldn’t shoehorn McGinn and his full $2.75 million contract into a possible trade to Vancouver. That runs the risk of peering fairly deep into the tea leaves at this point and still something that could happen — possibly with an early step being Vancouver doesn’t particularly want him and would be happier if a different team claimed him on waivers, but short of that if there are no takers might still take McGinn on in a trade if necessary.)

Miller is a player that would certainly make waves for the Pens. The East Palestine, Ohio native is no stranger to Western Pennsylvania, having come up through the youth ranks for a time with the Pittsburgh Hornets before branching out to the US National Development Program.

Last year was a smash-success for Miller, who scored 32 goals and 99 points. He has 54 points (20G+34A) in 59 games this season with Vancouver.

Any mention of acquiring Miller, who turns 30 years old in a couple weeks, should also point out a massive seven-year, $8.0 million annual contract that kicks in next season. According again to our pals at CapFriendly, should Vancouver retain any percentage of Miller’s contract, that retention is in effect for his current contract PLUS the extension years. If the Canucks did not retain any money on Miller, Pittsburgh would be on the hook for the full brunt of his future contract...If they were to acquire him, which hasn’t happened yet.

Up until this point, or last week when the Pens waived Kasperi Kapanen, it has been a season totally devoid of any outside roster transactions for them. However, just days before Friday’s NHL trade deadline, it looks like business is seriously about to pick up in Pittsburgh — whether it’s J.T. Miller or not — the Penguins are opening up a significant amount of cap space in order to bring in someone to their team for the stretch run. Will that be Miller? Stay tuned..