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NHL Rink Wrap: J.T. Miller hat trick; Zegras plays lacrosse

NHL Rink Wrap: J.T. Miller hat trick; Zegras plays lacrosse

MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 19: J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates after scoring the winning goal againstthe Montreal Canadiens in the NHL game at the Bell Centre on March 19, 2021 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Thursday in the NHL

J.T. Miller, Canucks

For the second time in his NHL career (and first with the Canucks), J.T. Miller generated a hat trick. He was quick about it, too; Miller completed his hat trick 12:55 into the second period. Folks, that’s a goal every 11 minutes, with some spare change left over.

As bad as this season’s been at times for the Canucks, J.T. Miller is enjoying one of his best years. That hat trick gave Miller 44 points (15G, 29A) in 41 games. He’s really only enjoyed one season in that range: that debut Canucks season for Miller, when he collected 72 points in 69 games.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Miller, 28, with the Canucks under new management. Theoretically, the Canucks could just stand pat with Miller, as his contract ($5.25M cap hit) runs through next season.

Yet, with all these signs of life, the Canucks might want to institute at least a rebuild or “retool.” From the look of things, they’d be selling high if they traded J.T. Miller, if nothing else.

NHL highlights from Thursday

Take a look at Trevor Zegras pulling off the “Michigan” lacrosse-style goal. If that’s not enough, there’s a post about it.

Here’s that J.T. Miller hat trick.

Adam Larsson scored the first overtime game-winner in Seattle Kraken history:

Not sure anyone makes coast-to-coast goals almost feel routine quite like Connor McDavid.

Speaking of Connor McDavid and making it look easy:

Should they call Ty Nelson “split” Nelson?

Drew Doughty reached 1,000 games played.

Thursday NHL Takeaways

ECHL suspends Jacob Panetta for racist gesture toward Jordan Subban

Click here for information regarding the ECHL suspending Jacob Panetta for the rest of the season after he made a racist gesture toward Jordan Subban.

(For whatever it’s worth, Panetta claims he was making a “bodybuilder gesture.”)

Former Canucks forward Virtanen charged with sexual assault

The Vancouver Police Department announced that former Canucks forward Jake Virtanen has been charged with sexual assault. This is following an investigation stemming from an incident in Vancouver in 2017. CBC News has more.

Oilers sign Evander Kane for the rest of the season

After the NHL closed its latest investigation regarding possible COVID policy violations, the Oilers and other teams were free to sign Evander Kane. This follows weeks of rumors about different teams being interested in Kane, but the Oilers tended to be linked to him most often.

In pure salary cap terms, it’s a cheap contract for Edmonton. But Evander Kane’s generated awful headlines on and off the ice (and also made enemies on his own teams), so the Oilers have to pay a price when it comes to perception.

Time will tell if it will be worth it. This post goes into greater detail about the Oilers choosing to sign Evander Kane.

Coyotes reportedly in talk to use ASU’s arena (which could mean small-for-NHL crowds)

PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan reports that the Coyotes are in “advanced discussions” with Arizona State University to use their new arena (which is still being built) to host home games. According to Morgan, that Coyotes - ASU arena deal could last for three years, with an option for a fourth.

Early on, word indicated that capacity could be at about 5,000 people for Coyotes games. That estimate might even be optimistic:

Again, ASU’s new arena hasn’t even been completely built yet, so there’s also no guarantee that the building would be ready for the 2022-23 Coyotes season.

All around it ... uh, seems pretty embarrassing? Or par for the course for an almost-cursed Coyotes franchise? Morgan brings up alternatives, including the idea of renovating Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but it sounds like the Coyotes using ASU’s upcoming building is quite likely.

Fittingly, while this is a huge mess, it’s not necessarily the end of the story. (Will there even be an end to this Coyotes - arena story?) ASU would still be an “interim” home for the Coyotes if that arena deal goes through.

Hey, at least the Coyotes won’t be goaded into rushing their rebuild too much, eh? Good grief.

Friday’s big story

Rangers vs. Wild, Panarin vs. Kaprizov

Every now and then, a future NHL star makes their presence felt in the KHL.

In 2016, Artemi Panarin won a Calder Trophy during his 23-24 age season, ruffling feathers in the process. Over time, most people forgot about that kind-of-exhausted controversy, and also dropped the other early Panarin criticism (that he was propped up by Patrick Kane).

Last season, people griped that Kirill Kaprizov won the 2021 Calder Trophy at age 24. The way things have been going, that talk will die down and people will just focus on what a star Kaprizov is. (In his first 92 NHL games, Kaprizov’s already collected 100 points.)

Will there be another Kaprizov -- a player blowing minds overseas before finally making the leap to the NHL, not missing a beat? Well, we’ve at least seen Kaprizov show that Panarin’s not the only player who can seamlessly transition.

The two aren’t exactly the same -- one’s a lefty shot, the other’s right-handed; Kaprizov was drafted and Panarin was not -- but they’re both captivating stars. And both will make their seemingly playoff-bound teams well worth watching.

(And leave fans of struggling teams hoping their guy is the next Kaprizov/Panarin.)

NHL scores from Thursday

Ducks 5, Canadiens 4
Hurricanes 3, Senators 2 (SO)
Lightning 3, Devils 2
Panthers 4, Golden Knights 1
Kings 3, Islanders 2
Kraken 2, Penguins 1 (OT)
Blue Jackets 5, Rangers 3
Blues 5, Flames 1
Canucks 5, Jets 1
Oilers 3, Predators 2 (SO)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.