Image via @VanCanucks
After weeks of speculation, on Friday morning the Vancouver Canucks locked up Daniel and Henrik Sedin to twin four-year contracts. The pair were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in July, but the latest deal will keep the Canucks’ top two scorers in franchise history through their 37-year-old seasons.
Terms of the deal were came out almost immediately after the deal itself. The twins will again make identical dollar amounts: $28-million over the four years for a $7-million average annual salary cap hit. While the contracts aren’t of the length that make you think this is the last NHL contract the two will ever sign, it will probably be a cap-friendly deal, owing to the fact it’s relatively short compared to other UFA deals for high-priced talent, and the salary cap is expected to increase.
It could be a whilte for the actual breakdown to come out, and that may affect the Canucks’ flexibility as far as buyouts go this summer, but since I think it’s highly improbable that the Sedins get traded or retire over the course of this deal, it doesn’t matter too much when evaluating the deal. The term and the AAV does. The $7-million price tag will put the twins, for now, in the top 20 highest cap hits in the NHL, but keep in mind that many of those deals were signed under the previous collective bargaining agreement.
Of the top 25 cap hits in the NHL, only two deals, those given to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, are four or fewer seasons. It used to be that you could offset a high salary cap hit by tagging on more years at the end of the contract, but thanks to the cap recapture system and term limits, the effect is that superstars will likely be signing shorter deals for higher salary cap hits. Comparing the Henrik and Daniel extensions to contracts signed by players prior to the lockout is a fool’s errand.
The immediate effect is that the deals take away from the Canucks ability to really go after somebody in the offseason, and it’s not like the team are locking up young superstars for four seasons. 34 is pretty old for a hockey player, and while scorers tend to decline at 26 or so, the twins have had longer peaks. I’ve been a little bearish about the twins’ production for a year or so now, but so far this season Daniel and Henrik have showed that they can continue to be point-a-game players in this league. The Canucks have a lot of weight in the middle of their order with Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis and Roberto Luongo all locked up for at least two years after this one. Those contracts are all priced between $2.5-million and $5.3-million, and haven’t exactly provided the Canucks with a whole lot of depth on offence, something the team has been struggling to find for the last couple of years.
That said, it’s not explicitly a bad thing to have your hands tied going into free agency, since a lot of bad deals get made there. The way the Canucks are going to improve their offence is to hit on one of their draft picks. Regardless of how these contracts look in 2017 and 2018, had the two left in the offseason, there’s nobody that you can immediately say that can slot onto the team’s first line.
Henrik’s 18 points in 15 games is a 1.20 point-a-game rate, his highest since 2010, when he was the Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner. Daniel’s 15 points in 15 games is a 1.00 point-a-game rate (#math) which is his highest since 2011, when he won the Art Ross Trophy. Those rates may not be sustainable, but the twins have been very fun to watch so far this season. In an age where other Canadian teams are seeing their team’s longtime stars head for greener pastures, it’s nice to know we’ll get the twins in Vancouver for four more years. They really do belong here, and there’s a good chance that Henrik will be able to crack the 1000-point mark with this franchise between now and the end of the deal. He’s currently at 810, so essentially has four and 7/8ths seasons to do it.