Ben Kuzma: Toffoli has Miller in his corner to extol the value of future Canucks

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“It is super precious and certainly a piece we needed. He understands his role and there isn’t much wobble in his game. He doesn’t just fly away. It’s playing a simple game and letting our skill take over. – JT Miller on Tyler Toffoli.

What are mutual admiration and production worth?

For unrestricted free agent Tyler Toffoli, rapidly developing chemistry and friendship with Vancouver Canucks teammate JT Miller is not lost on the right winger. Ten points in his first 10 games after joining an exchange in February with the Los Angeles Kings gave Toffoli comfort and reason for optimism – if he is extending his career here.

He scored in a 5-4 shootout victory over the New York Islanders on March 10 – two days before the new coronavirus became a pandemic to put the NHL on hold – and scored the only goal Tuesday in the first camp game at Rogers Arena.

So, between the challenges and the constraints of COVID-19, putting his game in order and planning for the future, he didn’t think much about next season – only next month and the qualifying round.

“With everything that’s going on, it’s confusing for everyone,” said Toffoli, who was in California ravaged by the virus during the break. “I’m just here to try to put my feet under me and play and have fun with everything that’s going on.

“The first two days of the camp were It was quite difficult, but most of the things went off the ice to find out more about the guys and it goes much further than on the ice. It’s my first exchange experience, but the first day I got there, Greener (Travis Green) just told me to play my game, work hard, and read JT and Petey (Elias Pettersson). They are great players and I discovered it quickly.

“And with JT, I really respect his way of playing. This is how you win. When you have a guy like that at the head of your team, other guys follow. He really takes care of when things go wrong and he is there when things go well too. “


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The sale of Toffoli by staying in Vancouver was seen as a priority for Tanner Pearson, who won a Stanley Cup with his longtime friend in Los Angeles in 2014. Now Miller is also on the side. of maintenance.

That’s because the 28-year-old Scarborough, Ontario native is preparing for a regular season and playoff match, especially the time and space constraints of post-season play that allow great importance in a round trip match.

Miller is not one to blow smoke. He sees so much good in Toffoli that a boost to his contract of US $ 13.8 million which will expire over three years and which has reached a ceiling of $ 4.6 million is a priority for the Canucks.

“We’re trying not to get too deep into this (contract), but I would love to keep it playing here,” said Miller, who led the Canucks to scoring this season with a career-high 72 points (27- 45) in 69 games. It is super precious and definitely a piece we needed.

“He understands his role and there is not a lot of flicker in his game. He is good in power play in front of the net and he stays in himself. That’s what I mean when I say it’s easy to play. It doesn’t just fly away. It’s about playing a simple game, then letting our skills take over. ”

And when it does, Toffoli has the will to go and stay in difficult areas. He can take a puck in his skates and find the top of the net with a flick of the wrist. He also struggles to be defensively responsible and to make a difference.

“I’m really looking forward to playing with him in some important games,” said Miller. “A lot of ugly goals are scored in the playoffs – inside the hash marks and at the bottom of the circles – and he has big hands around the net. ”

What Green has seen through 10 games is how Toffoli used positioning and reading to get into the scoring zones.

“It’s not that he has lightning speed or fast feet, but he’s extremely intelligent,” said Green. “He has a good hockey sense and can make up for it with his mind. Each time you win the Cup, you have gone through a lot of situations, not just offensively. It helps now and in the playoffs. ”

This was drilled early in Toffoli.

He lit the OHL with two 50-goal seasons and was the best AHL rookie. But the awareness of being as good without the puck as it can be, hit his NHL ticket.

“It was one of the main things when I was trying to create the Kings,” he recalls. “The most important thing was to play games on the wall so as not to be trapped in your area. And when you are, you have to take care of it. That’s how I got into the league and one of the things I’m proud of. You have to do it to stay in the league. ”

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