Henrik and Daniel Sedin reportedly want to return for another season and that’s good news (despite what some are saying) for the Vancouver Canucks.
The Sedins pumped the brakes on that a little after practice on Tuesday, saying they haven’t made up their minds yet, though they certainly sounded optimistic.
“I think we have an exciting team here,” said Henrik. “The last couple of weeks can’t take away from our group. We ran into some really tough injuries but before that I thought we were playing a great type of hockey. The hockey that we enjoy playing.
“The way this team is going right now, I think there’s a lot of exciting things happening.”
In the last year of matching four-year, $7 million contracts, retirement was very much on the table to start this season. Not wanting to make any commitments that they couldn’t fulfill, the Sedins wanted to see if they could still perform at a high level at age 37.
Given they were both coming off their least productive seasons since the 2004-05 lockout, there was reason for concern. And the start of the season was alarming, to say the least.
No longer first-line players for the Canucks for the first time in over 10 years, they didn’t get much ice time early on. Daniel played 14:02 on opening night, Henrik played just 13:30.
After the first month, Daniel had just five points while Henrik had only three, in 11 games. Daniel was averaging 14:02 of ice time per game and Henrik 14:11.
The power play, which was once their bread and butter, was looking as bad as ever.
Then came the low point, on November 4, in Pittsburgh. The Canucks won 4-2, but the Sedins were non-factors, each playing under nine minutes. It was the fewest minutes they had ever played in a game since they became front-line players in 2005, aside from games left due to injury and the last game of the regular season in 2013 when Henrik played just 22 seconds to keep his ironman streak alive.
Perhaps that lit a fire in the twins, because in the 10 games after the Pens game and before Brandon Sutter got hurt, Henrik tallied eight points in 10 games, while Daniel had 7.
Since receiving fourth-line minutes in Pittsburgh, Henrik Sedin is the team’s leading scorer with 29 points in 34 games. That’s more than the golden boy, Brock Boeser, and in fewer minutes too.
Daniel isn’t far off Henrik’s pace, notching 25 points in his last 33 games.
So yes, rumours of the Sedins’ demise have been greatly exaggerated.
“It feels like we can play in this league and put up points, and that’s all we wanted to know before the season,” Henrik said.
The power play has rebounded after a slow start and has been legitimately terrific this year. Vancouver is sixth-best in the league with the man advantage, and the Sedins are still on the top unit.
Want to know who the best players on the team are at puck possession? You guessed it, it’s Daniel and Henrik Sedin who rank 1-2 in terms of Corsi-For percentage (54.07 and 53.28%, respectively).
Those that want the Sedins to ride off into the sunset now are ill-informed.
While I understand the sentiments of fans that want the team to get younger – hell, I do too – it shouldn’t be at the expense of the Sedins.
Canucks prospects Elias Pettersson, Adam Gaudette, Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, and Jonathan Dahlen have shown promise this year, but the likelihood that more than two of them crack Vancouver’s lineup next season is remote.
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Removing Henrik and Daniel from this team makes them worse. They’re not front-line players anymore, but they’re certainly good enough to be third liners – if not second liners.
If you want to make room for young players, there’s plenty of other old guys you should push out the door before the two greatest Canucks of all-time. Thomas Vanek, for instance, should be gone by this year’s trade deadline and not re-signed as some have suggested recently.
Furthermore, the Sedins would be terrific mentors for fellow Swedes Pettersson and Dahlen, should one or both crack the lineup next season. Bo Horvat appears to be the heir apparent for the captaincy, but do you really want to pile on that kind of pressure on him at age 23?
The only question that should remain is what dollar figure the future Hall of Famers will command.
They won’t make $7 million again, surely, but they’re not $3 million players either. The number will lie somewhere in the middle.
It’s tough to find comparable players – both in terms of age and production – but Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are the closest.
The Sedins are on pace to score more than 50 points each this season. At the same age as the twins are now, Joe Thornton put up 50 points last season while Patrick Marleau had 46. Thornton parlayed that into a one-year deal worth $8 million, while Marleau received a three-year contract for $6.25 million per season.
Justin Williams is another player in the Sedin ballpark who signed a new contract recently. He had 48 points with Washington last year at age 35 and signed with Carolina as a UFA in the summer for two years at $4.5 million per season.
Working against the Sedins is their bargaining power, given they’ve already said they don’t want to play anywhere else. Not that they strike anyone as players that are looking for a king’s ransom.
#Canucks Henrik asked if the money will matter re: playing next season: ‘No.’ then added: ‘I’m not going to pay to play’
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) January 23, 2018
While they don’t owe Vancouver anything – they’ve given so much back already – I’d expect a hometown discount.
In a perfect world, the Sedins sign one-year deals for $3.5 to 4 million each and anchor the team’s second or third line and first-unit power play.