It was less than a year and a half ago that the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired J.T. Miller from the New York Rangers along with Ryan McDonagh. He was re-signed as a restricted free agent to a five year contract with a salary cap hit of $5.25 million. Miller had a decent year by his standards with 13 goals and 47 points. He was played all over the lineup, never really settling in to one spot. And now, he’s on his way out. To the Vancouver Canucks.
The Lightning received a conditional 2020 first round pick, a 2019 third round pick, and goaltender Marek Mazanec in return for Miller. If the Canucks don’t make the playoffs in 2019-20, the first-round selection will become a 2021 first-round pick.
Getting a first-round pick, even if it is delayed to 2021, is a good return for Miller. Getting the extra third now just serves to sweeten the deal. The inclusion of Mazanec is a bit weird as he signed a contract with HK Hradec Kralove in the Czech Men’s League for the 2019-20 season. He is also already 27 years old so would have been an unrestricted free agent. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I’m guessing the Lightning would like to sign him and bring him to the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch. Mazanec has 31 career NHL games and has also played 23 games in the KHL during his career.
When Miller signed, he was only given a modified No Trade Clause for the last four years of his contract. That wasn’t scheduled to kick in until July 1st this summer, allowing the Lightning to trade him anywhere prior to July 1st. I’ve viewed his contract for the past year as being the salary cap safety valve for the Lightning if they ended up needing more room than thought to re-sign Brayden Point. Miller has a very reasonable contract which would make moving him fairly easy. Moving his $5.25 million salary cap gives the Lightning some more flexibility going into the free agency period.
This could be a sign that the Lightning are soon to announce a new contract for Brayden Point. It also could lead them towards signing or trading for a defenseman for the top four. We’ll have to see what comes in the next couple of days and weeks.