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What If the Canucks Never Traded for J.T. Miller? | Silky N’ Filthy podcast

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We debate that and other wacky “what if” scenarios on this week’s episode.

Colorado Avalanche v Vancouver Canucks
J.T. Miller was a force for the Canucks this season, but what if Jim Benning never makes that trade?
Getty Images

Happy “what if” week here at SB Nation NHL.

As we look for ways to stimulate the sports conversation, the overlords at SB Nation NHL gave all writers and podcasters an endless topic of discussion this week.

Debate “what if” scenarios related to the NHL.

Now, that can be a sad rabbit hole if you’re a Canucks fan.

Thankfully, one of the “what ifs” Kyle and I talked about on the latest episode of Silky N’ Filthy, actually had a happy ending for the Canucks. That of course, was the highly-contested trade of J.T. Miller which seemed to tear apart the fan base.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the other “what ifs” we debated on the latest podcast on the Nucks Misconduct network, out wherever YOU get your podcasts.

What if Brian Burke was still the Maple Leafs GM? (5:00)

This was the first year where Kyle Dubas’ Toronto Maple Leafs really took shape. Gone was all the truculence and toughness of the Brian Burke era, and that was amplified further when Mike Babcock was axed and replaced by Sheldon Keefe.

But what if Burke was running the show in Toronto today?

Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Randy Carlyle Gives Press Conference
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manger Brian Burke (R) introduces new head coach Randy Carlyle at a press conference at the Bell Centre on March 3, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Well for one, this team ranks a lot higher in hits than they do right now. Currently, the Leafs are 29th overall in hits per game.

Also, does this team look more like the bottom-six of the Islander, where “responsible vets” such as Casey Cizikas and “Uncle” Leo Komarov are holding down roster spots?

Finally, we know Burke is definitely pushing to trade for Tom Wilson, because truculence.

2004 NHL Draft
NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman, unknown scout, Ross Mahoney, #1 overall draft pick Alexander Ovechkin, owner Ted Leonsis and George McPhee of the Washington Capitals during the 2004 NHL Draft on June 26, 2004 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Photo by Sara Davis/Getty Images

What if the Pittsburgh Penguins won the NHL draft lottery? (9:30)

Back in 2004, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost out on the draft lottery, and they ended up selecting Evgeni Malkin instead of Alexander Ovechkin.

However, what if those fortunes were reversed, and the Pens drafted Ovechkin instead. Would they have more (or even less) than those three Stanley Cups?

Some food for thought before you pop a stiffy thinking about Ovi and Crosby on the same team. Ovechkin’s career points per game is 1.1, whereas Malkin’s is 1.18.

On a side note, is Malkin potentially underrated? I’d make that argument.

New York Islanders v New York Rangers
Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers is named the first star of the game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on January 13, 2020 in New York City.
Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

What if Artemi Panarin signed with the Islanders instead? (19:45)

It’s abundantly clear that Panarin wanted the spotlight of playing for the Rangers, but what if he chased the money opted to sign with the New York Islanders instead?

He certainly got paid when he signed a seven-year deal worth $11.63 million per season, but the Islanders reportedly offered him a contract with an average annual value of $12.5 million per season.

The Rangers are likely a bottom feeder without Panarin, but are the Islanders markedly better? Are they a Stanley Cup favourite with The Breadman?

Vancouver Canucks v Ottawa Senators
J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his second period power-play goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates Elias Pettersson #40 and Bo Horvat #53 at Canadian Tire Centre on February 27, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

What if Jim Benning never trades for J.T. Miller? (30:30)

Can you imagine what the narrative of this team is if Miller wasn’t a Canuck this season?

Benning was ripped by some for giving up a first round pick for the former first round pick. Of course, Miller went on to exceed expectations and was easily the Canucks best skater this season.

Forget gushing about the impact of Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, because this team is probably a bottom feeder without Miller.

Consider this: In terms of point shares, according to Hockey Reference, Miller contributed 7.8 points to the Canucks this season, highest among all players other than Markstrom. Take away those 7.8 points, and the Canucks are down to 70 on the season. That’s only better than the California teams.

The narrative about an overachieving Canucks team is altered dramatically if the occupy the Conference basement for another season.

Score one, Jim Benning.