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Photo Credit: sportsnet.ca

Why re-signing the Sedin twins is the only logical move

At 37-years-old, Henrik and Daniel Sedin are well past their prime and steadily declining. We know it, the coach knows it, the GM knows it, they know it. Yet, it’s too early to let them go.

As the attempt to rebuild on the fly can officially be characterized as a massive failure — all while prospects like Elias Pettersson are representing light at the end of the tunnel — a full-on rebuild appears inevitable.

In many fans’ ideal scenarios, that rebuild includes the sale of multiple current NHL roster players who could fetch draft picks and prospects in return. Plus, it means the Canucks have to move on from ageing veterans like the Sedins and bring in prospects instead.

But does that really make sense?

By the numbers

Below is a chart outlining the Sedins’ point production per game throughout their careers. While both are moving closer and closer toward their rookie numbers from 17 years ago, they are still producing more than half a point per game, and are even seeing an uptick in this metric compared to last year.

With Henrik’s 36 and Daniel’s 33 points this season, they currently sit third and fourth, respectively, in team scoring.

Also outlined in the chart is the percentage of points the two recorded on the man advantage. Although it may seem like the twins are struggling with the speed of today’s game, therefore only being useful once set up in the offensive zone with some extra space, they are still scoring the majority of their points at even strength.

On average through their careers, Henrik and Daniel have scored 34.6 percent of their points on the power play. In 2017-18, that number is a little higher for Daniel, who currently sits at 42.4 percent, but it’s still reasonable. Henrik, meanwhile, is at 36.1 percent, close to career average.

Sedin

So, while the decline – which is expected at 37 – is obvious, the Sedins are still serviceable players, even producing more than last season.

It’s not just about individual numbers either. Comparing the shot rates for all Canucks forwards – a group that plays a low-event style as a whole – the Sedins are the only duo that gets close to average in adjusted Corsi for per 60 in five-on-five situations.

Thanks to spending a lot of time in the offensive zone, their shot rates against are quite good as well. In the chart below, courtesy of Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey), the Sedins are the closest Canucks to the “Good” section, which is really all we can ask for at this stage.

canucks Usage

One of the big reasons why the Sedins are still succeeding is that new head coach Travis Green is using them the right way. That is, as middle-six forwards and power-play specialists.

After 56 games this season, Henrik and Daniel rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in all-situation ice time among Canucks forwards.

Canucks

Although the cycle game isn’t working quite as well as it used to anymore, the Sedins are still very capable once positioned deep in the offensive zone. As a result, Green does everything in his power to put them in that position as often as possible, resulting in ridiculous zone-start numbers.

So far in the 2017-18 season, the Sedins have started almost a quarter of their shifts in the offensive zone, and less than five percent in their own end.

Canucks

Their job isn’t to face off against top opposition anymore. They are asked to produce offence, nothing more – this becomes even clearer when one looks at the situations in which they are used.

When Vancouver is trailing, the Sedins play their regular third-line and power-play role. They are put out to contribute, but they are far from being the first-line leaders they were up until last year.

And when they have a lead, Henrik and Daniel get to rest, logging fewer minutes than any other NHL regular on the roster.

canucks

The future

Okay, so the Sedins are still serviceable players this year. But what about next season?

As Luke Solberg (@EvolvingWild) showed in his recent work at Hockey-Graphs, today’s NHLers peak around the age of 23, before entering a steady decline. The age curve stays relatively steady until dropping off more significantly between “Year II” ages 37 and 38.

The Sedins, currently 37 years old and turning 38 in late September, are now reaching that spot.

canucks

But does that mean they will completely useless next season? Of course not.

While we can’t expect them to get any better than they are now, it also wouldn’t make sense to write them off based on a statistical drop-off.

The logical step here would be to sign them to a short-term deal that is as cheap as possible (we’ll get to this in a bit) and see where it goes.

But does Vancouver want them to be good?

What remains, though, is a fundamental question: Do the Canucks even want to be good and do they want the Sedins to contribute to being good?

Again, the answer seems obvious.

While a rebuild on the fly might not have been the right call, selling everything of value and tanking for high draft picks would be a terrible solution, too.

We all wish the Canucks won the lottery the next three years, landing them potential generational talents in defenceman Rasmus Dahlin and forwards Jack Hughes and Alexis Lafreniere. But it’s not that easy and doesn’t guarantee success. Plus, is the worst team in the league really a good place to develop your prospects?

Here’s the thing: Over the past couple of years, the Canucks have been terrible, all while trying to stay competitive and have a word in the playoff race. Keeping the Sedins won’t lift them ten spots up the standings – it will merely contribute to keeping them competitive, keeping games close and winning some along the way.

Furthermore, if the Sedins are let go, Vancouver will need some kind of replacement.

Fans are hoping for prospects Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen to jump in soon, but it’s impossible to know when they are ready until they’re actually there. And as of today, neither one seems likely to jump into the NHL next season, unless the Canucks decide to rush them in right away – which wouldn’t be the best idea.

As long as these prospects aren’t ready, and as long as players like Nic Dowd or Brendan Gaunce see regular ice time, there is no point in letting go of the Sedins, who are not only serviceable players but role models for the rest of the team as well.

They are helping the rebuild, not hurting it.

The contracts

The Sedins made their intentions clear in a letter to the fans, shared at The Players’ Tribune before the 2017-18 season:

“If we’re going to win a Cup, we only want it to be with Vancouver – that will never change. And if the moment has come and passed already, then so be it. This is my home. This is our home. This is our family’s home. Vancouver has given us so much and we’ve tried to give everything we have in return. So we will do our best to teach this new generation of young guys.”

The two have accepted that winning the Stanley Cup in Vancouver has become extremely unlikely for them, yet they decided the Canucks will be the only NHL club for which they will ever play. At the very least, they want to use their experience to help develop the young players coming in.

This is the kind of player every team wants – and the Canucks have two of them. This is also the rare kind of player that would seriously consider signing a one-year contract with a ‘hometown discount.’

Of course, Henrik and Daniel, still producing at a solid rate, have some leverage. And after what they’ve done for this franchise, the Canucks wouldn’t say “sign at the league minimum or leave.” But they definitely won’t have $7-million cap hits anymore, so Vancouver is likely to save some money and make room for moves in the process.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin aren’t what they used to be. But you haven’t seen the last of them either.

  • Apousians

    Two of the classiest, hardest working, mentors any team would wish for. Selfless doesn’t even come close. HHF one day, and a asset to this team for a couple years still.

  • apr

    I don’t know how to quantify the impact the Sedins have in youth. Seems like they have had no influence on Hutton, McCann, and JV – whereas, Brock and Bo were already mature before they donned on the jerseys. That said, it would be great to have them if they somehow got Dahlin and EP and comes over. Also a great recruiting source for Karlsson.

    • argoleas

      Man, the Karlsson this gives me pause. On one hand, a super offensive player, and fills a need exceptionally well. If we get him as UFA in 2019, great. But here’s the downside. Looking at 8 years at $12M/yr. Yikes!! Got to be really sure about that one, especially his injury history.

      • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

        Karlsson will be 28/29 when his contract is up. Looking at the graph above for avg pts based on age, Karlsson will already be 3-5 yrs PAST his prime. In light of the catastrophic contracts that Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook recently signed at the same age and seeing just how quickly players can decline/drop off a cliff (hey Loui Eriksson I’m looking at you!), whoever signs Karlsson to the guaranteed 8yr deal he will get will undoubtedly be handcuffing themselves to an anchor within a few yrs for certain. Oh, Doughty will also be a colossal mistake for whoever he signs with IMO.

  • Sammy D

    As an Oilers fan, I hate the Sedins, because they broke my heart so many times taking it to the Oilers. As a hockey fan, I love the Sedins, because they are the epitome of what it means to be a star in the NHL – hard working, talented, loyal to the team and fans. So I’m torn. Smarter people than I will make the decision on what to do with them. I will just enjoy the rest of the ride.

  • argoleas

    If Sedins return, then we must look at the projected roster (not necessarily these specific lines):

    Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser
    Eriksson-Sutter-Archibald
    Daniel-Henrik-Virtanen

    So, that leaves 3 spots for: Granlund, Gagner, Boucher, Goldobin, Gaunce, Gaudette. A bit tight, but the type of decisions that need to be made with up-and-coming prospects.

    I happen to believe that Pettersson and Dahlen (and Lind) should start in Utica, and be available for callups when we have injuries.

    So one more yr of Sedins is doable, and should not get in the way of the rebuild.

    • apr

      I don’t think Archibald and JV are locks, though both are waiver wire eligible. Goldy, Gaunce, and Boucher are also waiver wire eligible. I think the idea is to bring EP in to learn from the Sedins. It gets even more crowded if the Nucks draft Svechnikov, Zadina, or Tkachuck. The more you think about it, the more it may make sense for the Sedins to retire…..

      • argoleas

        Well, no one else is taking Archibald’s spot except another player like him, and that’s no one on my or your list.

        This management team is not giving up on Virtanen, so that spot is in fact reserved for him.

        If they go with picking one of Svechnikov, Zadina, or Tkachuck, they may make the team, but do you think this coach will be fine with that? Heck, I don’t know that Green would have Dahlin here next season!

        I like the Sedins-Pettersson idea, but I like Pettersson starting in AHL more, mostly because I still have doubts about him being able to handle the NHL, physicality, AND the smaller ice right off the bat. And it’s just not necessary to rush him. But who knows, maybe he surprises everyone.

        Look, I say its doable to have the Sedins. It’s also doable without them. I agree with the author’s observation that Sedins could be due for a major regression next season. The team IMO has enough veteran leadership even with out them and Vanek.

        • Ser Jaime Lannister

          Yeah they have to move on its too crowded. I would love for them to utilise their CAP space and sign a bad contract or two (with one or two years max) and leverage some picks or prospects with that. This team is going to be a bottom 5-7 team for the next year or two and playoffs are probably 4-5 years away assuming every prospect pans out (which wont happen).

        • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

          I like almost everything you said…except concerning Virtanen. Now that JB has signed his extension (you may have noticed neither TL nor JB mentioned Virtanen when talking the future until prompted by reporters) JB can ship him out while he still has some value. The kid just can’t seem to put it all together on a regular basis and he’s been a pro for 3yrs now. He is wildly inconsistent, displaying his skill and speed roughly 1 out of every 10-15 games. Who’s mentoring him? Maybe they should have had him live with a veteran for a few yrs to help transition him?

  • wojohowitz

    I appreciate what the twins have accomplished but I would like a different kind of leadership. That would be veterans who can trash talk and intimidate with their presence. Names like Tanner Glass and Adam Cracknell on one year one million dollar contracts – in effect surround the skill with muscle and experience.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Some of the dumbest posts yet on CA here. Petterssen will be NHL ready next year, and the Sedins are exactly the right people to facilitate his transition.Same for Dahlen, and Dahlin if they get that lucky in the draft. One year deals with a club option for 3-4 million per seems about right. That is a slight hometown discount, but judging by their past behaviour, it seems reasonable to think that they will grant that.

    • Rodeobill

      Yeah, I think if EP can play against men in the SHL and lead the lead with record breaking numbers, I think there is a good chance he can make it on the team roster next season, but I don’t think either of the Sedins will be the first person bumped off. also, lets look at this question again after the TDL.

      • Fortitude00

        I can only find one former NHler in the top 100 scoring in the SHL and that is Derek Roy. Elias is still listed at 6’2″ 165lbs the same weight Petr Nedved was. I would think there is a very good chance he plays outside the NHL for another year and probably a year in the AHL the year after.

        • Chris the Curmudgeon

          What does that matter? The point is that Pettersson at age 19 is already dominant against men in a strong second tier league. Will he be ready for a first tier one in a year, not sure, but his accomplishment is impressive. He’s currently tied for 4th best SHL season by a teenager in history (with a certain D. Sedin), and needs only 3 points to take sole possession of 2nd by passing a certain P. Forsberg and H.Sedin, with only the incredible Kent Nilsson still ahead. There’s simply no way to downplay how incredible that is.

          • Fortitude00

            It matters because the talent in that league is below the AHL. It is a big jump for from that league to the NHL. Look at Rodin for instance he was the MVP and couldn’t make a pitiful Canuck team. I am not saying its not possible but I think people’s expectations are way too high.

  • defenceman factory

    The idea of signing the Sedins for one more year isn’t horrible. The article does a good job of demonstrating their utility. Unfortunately the author doesn’t really discuss what you can’t do if the Sedins are still here next year. Their sheltered offensive role is exactly the way you would want to use young offensively gifted players like Pettersson and Dahlen, Goldobin, Zadina or Lind. The kids on ELCs will also be considerably cheaper than the Sedins.

    The decision on re-signing the Sedins must be based on a solid assessment of the readiness of the prospects that would fill the same role. Sticking with the Sedins next year might lead to a few more wins but if the kids are ready a few extra wins next year really isn’t the point.

    • Janik Beichler

      I agree that a sheltered offensive role would is ideal for your top offensive prospects. But I’m currently not quite convinced Pettersson can jump into the NHL and be an impact player right away, and am fairly certain Dahlen will start in Utica. Lind won’t be in the NHL next season either.

      So really, it’s mostly about the guys who are already here right now, i.e. Boucher, Goldobin, Virtanen, and Gaunce, plus hopefully Gaudette. At least three of them can easily play on the fourth line, and Boucher and Goldobin are getting to a point where they’ll probably have to prove they can be consistent NHL scorers soon. If they do that, they’ll get their lineup spots, even with the Sedins there.

      And a little bit of competition in training camp won’t hurt.

      • defenceman factory

        It is certainly fair to argue the prospects are not ready or that the organization should choose to keep them in Utica next year.

        You can’t deny having the Sedins is a real barrier to using prospects in the most desireable way. If Henrik is signed Pettersson can’t have the roster spot he would be best suited for. Guadette is 22 next season. He probably needs a roster spot. Boucher may be okay on the 4th line but I strongly suspect he would be better in a sheltered offensive role as would Goldobin or maybe Dahlen.

        This isn’t just about the Sedins who don’t need to be re-signed. There is also Gagner (who needs to be sheltered) and Ericksson.

        Maybe re-signing the Sedins is the right thing to do given the development of the prospects but it is inadequate to dismiss the issue by saying there will be spots without acknowledging the loss of opportunity, ice time and roles available to prospects if the Sedins are here.

        • crofton

          Nope. Trade or waive Gagner and Eriksson, or buy them out, if Pettersson and Gaudette prove they should be in the line-up. I would much sooner have Henrik and Daniel than either of those two. Anyone else deemed as superfluous can also be traded or parked.

          • Fortitude00

            Eriksson is a much better 5 on5 player then the Sedins and he is way better defensively. A buyout on him only saves 500k per year and makes little sense. Gagner was signed to transition away from Henrik to give them extra center ice help. Neither look like great signings but they are better options then the Sedins who are totally useless when they don’t have the puck.

  • canuckfan

    I don’t think the twins want to play another year and planned this before the season started but wanted to keep it private so the last tour didn’t turn everything around all about them. Class acts in all accounts. Their presence and leadership can only mask the declining effectiveness for so long. They need to be remembered for how great they have been. It’s time.

  • Dan the Fan

    The Canucks have already lost Dorestt and Burmistrov from opening night, and they’re going to lose Vanek as well. That’s 3 spots for the youngsters to fight over in training camp. Roster competition is a good thing. If a young guy takes another spot from a vet, then it’s no biggie to waive a vet and lose or demote him. Despite the consternation shown here over Etem and Corrado, it’s not like those guys have come back to bite us in the ass.

    If you don’t resign the Sedins, then you either have to replace them with FAs that won’t have the same value, or you’re forced to have all but one of Gaudette, Goldobin, Archibald, Petterson, Dahlen, and Boucher on the roster – ready or not.

    The 13th forward usually gets at least 40 games a year, often even 60+. You could probably say that Dowd is the 13th forward on the depth chart currently, and he’s already at 23 games. With Granlund out for the rest of the season, he’s probably going to get close to 50 games despite being acquired midseason. So I wouldn’t be to worried about a guy like Boucher losing development time if he’s the 13th man. Archibald is old enough that he’s not losing any development time as the 14th forward.

    And if you want those guys to get even more playing time, then scratch a Sedin in each game of a back to back. Like they didn’t play Salo where possible in back to backs, in his last year.

  • Dan the Fan

    Baerchti/Horvat/Boeser
    Sedin/Sedin/Eriksson
    Gaunce/Sutter/Granlund
    Gagner/Gaudette/Virtanen

    Boucher/Goldobin

    Peterson, Lind, Dahlen, can start in the AHL if they can’t take someone’s spot.

    I’m not worried about Boucher’s and Goldobin’s development anymore, they’ll be 25 at the start of next season. If they haven’t established themselves as regulars by then, then they’re probably not going to make it. As the chart above shows, players peak at 23 so these guys are already on the decline.

    I’d like to see Gagner traded if Peterson looks ready. Peterson is clearly closer to the NHL than Dahlen and Lind. Those two need a year in the A. Peterson will be on the roster by next year’s trade deadline at the latest.

    • DJ_44

      The Sedin’s are old. Watching tonights game is was apparent. Despite puck possession on the cycle, the puck does not come off the boards…they are separated from the puck and then on the back check which is the worst case scenario. They surrender way to many high value chances. Move on from them. There are players ready to replace them. Sign a FA to a one year deal and flip them at the deadline. It is not like you would flip the Sedins.

      And let’s dispell the myth they still can be PP specialists. Hank should not be running the first unit; Boucher should. He is more dynamic on that side, can make a hard cross ice to Boeser, and more importantly can receive a hard pass from Boeser and shot the puck.

      • Cageyvet

        I agree with this assessment, their flashes of brilliance don’t make up for their flaws, except maybe on this roster which is paper-thin.

        Still, I can live with one more year, but I’m inclined the other way because, as always, they are a package deal. You can bury one aging vet so easily in a rebuild and value his leadership, but two of them on the same line is tough.

        Without them and assuming the loss of Vanek, my lines might look something like this, and I’d be open to one of the incoming Swedes and/or Gaudette knocking somebody out. I can’t be fussy about the wings, they can all switch sides if necessary, so don’t look for accuracy here.

        Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser
        Virtanen-Granlund-Goldobin
        Eriksson-Sutter-Boucher
        Gagner-Gaunce-Archibald
        Dowd as 13th

        The lack of depth is shockingly apparent, so you can easily justify another year of the twins if they are so inclined. It’s just that when they go in, it’s not Dowd, Gaunce, Archibald or even Gagner perhaps who sit. It’s a young player who has a top 6 ceiling but hasn’t had 40 games in a row to cement a top 9 position.

        It’s a fine line, I know, but after watching injury derail what little depth we had built, will next year be better served by being shallow or really shallow? It seems like Edmonton and Chicago are demonstrating how fine the line is, so I vote for go young now while you’re going to be mediocre at best.

        Lost in the commentary has been the fact that while we were doing well, the Sedins were not very good, and when they played well, the team was not very good. They’re just not difference makers at all……I hope they take the decision out of the team’s hands and retire, because I hate doing anything but cheering for 2 of the best we’ve ever seen.

  • Darryl Mitchell

    I agree with your article. However couldl the Canucks not trade them together or separately at the deadline to a contender? (They would have to waive ntc) Canucks should be able to get at least 2 3rd round picks. And the Sedins get a crack at the cup. Then resign on July 1st.

    • Janik Beichler

      The Canucks explicitly said they don’t want to do this. Besides, no contender has room for $14 million cap hits on their third line, and I neither think they nor the teams would want separate trades.

      • DJ_44

        I agree. This speculation is just wishful thinking. Teams are not parting with futures of any significance to pick these guys up; even if the Canucks and the Sedins were amiable to the idea.

  • truthseeker

    Been saying it all along. When most here were saying trade them 2 seasons ago when they were struggling and then when many here flip flopped over to keeping them because they started playing better again. It’s always been resign them. They’re fine. They provide excellent value and leadership. They always have. And there is plenty of room for them on the roster. Only the self loathers think otherwise.

  • Break The Canuck's Curse

    What should be a huge factor for consideration is how they play down the stretch. The problem with them recently is that they tend to fade into the end of the season. Last year that was very apparent though it was a discouraging time for the whole team

  • Fortitude00

    Canucks have a new star in Boeser to market the team there is not reason to keep the Sedins. The Sedins are slow can’t back check and are totally useless 5 on 5. They also come in a package deal and as someone else mentioned its difficult to bench one when they are so reliant on one another. I hear people talk about them as leaders. If the Sedins were these great leaders people keep taking about players like JV and Kassian would have matured faster. They were great point producing players but the Canucks need real leadership. The Canucks need leadership that will demand excellence and hard play. I watched JV saunter to the bench last game after he was tired from a long shift. Who did he learn this from, Henrik who has been doing it for couple years now. The only leadership we are getting out of these guys is bad habits and the youngsters are learning them. Horvat and Boeser who should be part of the next core have picked up the bad back checking habits. The message to season ticket holders was “we need to get younger and faster.” That is a game without the cycle and the stop and go at center ice. That is a life without the Sedins.

  • Wi2lo

    I’d like to see a different kind of leadership. No more politeness, being nice guy and being politically correct. If 2011 shown us anything, is that hockey is not that kind of sport…. you can maybe win badminton with that, but not NHL hockey. We want Donald Trump kind of hockey,nasty mean and effective. Our opponents don’t even bother to hate us, that just shows you what others really think of this team aside from all those praises of professionalism. There’s no point of building another competitive team, we want winners, champion….. Losers tried their best, winners go home with the prom queen

  • Jamie E

    I remember a few years back when Mike Keane, after a distinguished career as an NHL pro, played five seasons for the Manitoba Moose, essentially as a player coach. I wish this was a more accepted way for an NHL player to end their career. I think Daniel and Henrik struggle to keep up with the pace of play in today’s NHL, but I bet they could play into their mid-40s in the AHL and mentor a whole new generation of future Canucks. Of course this won’t happen. Elite NHL players are too proud, I suppose, to do something that would seen as a major demotion. I always thought it was pretty neat that Keane did it though.