51
Photo Credit: Bob Frid - USA TODAY Sports

There’s no Obvious Answer to the Sedin Question

As the days count down on another lost season, the focus has rightly shifted to the future. Generally speaking, it’s the one hockey topic in town in which the Sedins don’t usually have a hand.

That wasn’t the case last week. In the immediate aftermath of the Canucks 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday, all corners of the Smylosphere came out of the woodwork to offer their opinion on what role Henrik and Daniel Sedin should have in Vancouver’s immediate future.

Mostly, people argued that if the Sedins want to play next season, then there shouldn’t be an issue. Find the money, create the space and make it happen. Done, and done.

In the opposite corner, Sportsnet 650’s Aynsley Scott argued that the prudent decision was to rip the band-aid off without a moment’s hesitation to create space, opportunities, etc. with which to build a new core. Why wait, he argued.

Now, this is a testy issue, and the reactions on each side of the argument made as much clear with an authority. There are several key points to consider when deliberating on the Sedins’ futures. Let’s try and tackle them one after the other and gain some clarity in the process.

What’s Left in the Tank and What’ll it Cost?

About this time a month ago, CanucksArmy’s Janik Beichler wrote an article on why re-signing the Sedins was the only logical move available to the Canucks, and the arguments he made therein only seem more prescient now.

Simply put — the Sedins are still capable hockey players with utility as offensive specialists in the middle-six with power play time. If the goal is to win as early as next season, and that’s been the goal time and again, then they add value towards that end.

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

The Canucks second and third highest scorers? The Sedin twins. Their first and second best shot share players? The Sedin twins. Their unquestioned leaders? The Sedin twins.

Time is undefeated, and it appears poised for another pair of victories in Vancouver, but the Sedins aren’t exactly going gentle into that good night. At 37-years-old, they aren’t quite what they used to be, but the Sedins still have something to offer the Canucks for at least another season.

The problem? That’s going to come at a cost. No, the Sedins aren’t going to sign deals priced millions below market value. They’ve never struck me as the money-first type, but they seem like proud people all the same, and I can’t imagine they want to play closer to the Sam Gagner ($3.15-million annually) end of the spectrum than the Loui Eriksson ($6-million annually) one.

Frankly, I have a hard time seeing the Sedins sign for anything less than $5-million apiece. That’s about the going rate for players that productive, even at this stage in their respective careers.

The Canucks project to have roughly $24-million in cap space according to CapFriendly, and that’s before accounting for $2.65-million in long-term injured reserve relief from Derek Dorsett’s contract and expected growth which could push that number to $31-million in and of itself. So, they can comfortably fit the roughly $10-million combined for the Sedins and take care of their restricted free agents.

That doesn’t leave a tonne of room for prospective free agent additions, though one could argue that’s more feature than flaw.

Impact on the Canucks Asset Base

The question of whether the Sedins can play and what it will cost the Canucks seems immaterial in this discussion. The Canucks aren’t going to be in contention next season, so whether they do or don’t have another productive year in them won’t make much of a difference — this team will still finish near the bottom of the standings. Assuming no significant movement ahead of free agency, Vancouver can easily afford them, too.

What’s more pressing in my estimation is the value that the Sedin twins offer the Canucks rebuild by spending another year as a part of it. The Sedins have made clear, repeatedly, that they have no desire to leave Vancouver, which means that if they sign for next season, they’re here for all of next season. They’re immovable assets, period.

This stands in stark contrast to any prospective free agent the Canucks could sign this summer. If the Canucks fully embrace a rebuild, the potential for shifting the resources that were once tied up in the Sedins towards players that can contribute to their asset base is enormous. And there is no shortage of opportunities for such a thing this summer. Just spend a couple minutes on the CapFriendly free agents list and let your imagination run wild.

That matters. The name of the game should be asset hoarding with a reckless abandon at this stage in the Canucks’ rebuild. They have the best group of prospects in the history of the franchise — this much is undeniable. But they have essentially two young core players in their lineup, which puts that prospect pool into perspective when projecting for the next two, three or even four years. Put another way: there is still work to be done, and it’s best conducted at the draft.

What’s the best way to put extra bullets in the draft’s chamber? Signing veterans to one or two-year deals and flipping them at the trade deadline shortly thereafter for draft picks.

If you want to see those type of savvy, asset rapacious moves, then it’s hard to reconcile that with a desire to see the Sedins return to Vancouver. Of course, it’s not black and white, and there are ways to do this with the Sedins in the lineup too. It’s just that the potential for such moves will be limited accordingly.

The Human Element

This website is nothing if not a place where intangible elements factor into our every analysis, and we shan’t be making an exception for the Sedins.

Done laughing?

In all seriousness, though we often understate the importance of intangibles when deliberating on a player’s contract and trade value, it’s not like we don’t acknowledge their existence. Where we differ from most is in our willingness to put a big number on a player skill or attribute with a level of importance that by its very nature is impossible to track.

For the Sedins, world-class people by all accounts, I can imagine that the intangible value of their presence in the lineup would be immense. They’re great mentors. Consider for a second Alex Edler still speaks fondly about the impact Mattias Ohlund had on his development; then consider what kind of an impact both Sedin twins can offer to Elias Pettersson in his rookie season. There’s definitely something there.

Then one has to ponder the value that the Sedins offer by sheltering the team’s younger players from media responsibilities night in and night out. Just look at how the Sedins are always at the front line loss after listless loss. It might seem inconsequential from the outside, but I bet you the likes of Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat appreciate the relative shelter from scrutiny that having the Sedins affords them.

There aren’t many young players in Vancouver ready to carry the torch from the Sedins, and their general unwillingness to step into the spotlight as the losses mount doesn’t help matters, however understandable.

So, What to Do?

There isn’t an easy answer to the Sedin question. It’s going to cost a lot to accommodate their return, but it could prove worthwhile in the short and long-term. That said, signing the Sedins means making some uncomfortable decisions elsewhere in the lineup. It also means spending capital on players that can’t return draft picks to your asset base at the trade deadline.

I don’t think the Canucks can do wrong, in a vacuum, with their decision to take the Sedins back or not. They’re in a tough spot. If the Sedins want to return for next season, does Canucks general manager Jim Benning want to be the one to say no to the two greatest people and players in the franchise’s history?

All I can say at this point is I don’t envy any of the decision makers involved in this, whether it’s the Sedins themselves or Canucks management. Here’s to hoping they make the best of a difficult situation.

  • DeL

    Seriously? You’re going to pay five million for a guy who scored twice so far this year? Not if I was holding the cheque book. I’m not opposed to re-signing the twins but Henrik is not worth that kind of money.

    • GLM

      Really? I was gonna say the exact opposite, in that no way do I see the Sedins signing for as low as 5 mil. I’ve heard the Sedins say that they’ll sign for what they’re worth, and looking around at the precedents of what their comparables signed like Thornton or Marleau, expect a 1 year 8 mil deal or 6+mil with term.

  • Kanucked

    This management group has consistently used their cap space to bring in players they felt would make the team more competitive. They have also been reluctant sellers at the deadline. I can’t see them using their cap space to add picks.

    I fear the additional space will be used to over pay free agents.

    I much prefer resigning the twins.

  • Ser Jaime Lannister

    Get rid of them please! It hurts too much watching these guys struggle too keep up with the game, time too lace em up. Still going to be a few years of misery theres tons of gaping holes still (C depth, D, Goaltending) take on a few bad contracts and get some picks please.

    • DJ_44

      I am certainly in favour of not resigning them. Move on. I am also not in favour of taking on bad contracts. Use the cap wisely; leave some room to exploit teams that are up against the wall throughout the season. There will always be team in a better position to take on expenses. Fourth rounders are not worth it.

  • Holly Wood

    I have felt since the beginning of the season that this is the Sedins last season. I do no think they want to have a huge fuss made over their last season with goodbyes at every rink throughout the season. They are all about the team and not the individual. So I predict they will announce at some point during the last two weeks that this is it. Very fitting for their personality.

  • Holly Wood

    If this is in fact their last season hopefully we can use some available cap space to pick up a #1 centre. Pettersson or Gaudette may turn into one down the road so the quicker we get one the better. This may not go over well on here but, Bo is not and is unlikely to become a true #1. He is a pretty damn good #2 but lacks the offensive skills that 1’s on contenders bring. Until Canucks have a #1 goalkeeper, a stud defencemen and a true #1 centerman the best we are looking at is being a playoff team.

    • tyhee

      While what you say may make sense, we have a general manager whose proponents point to Boesser, Pettersson and Gaudette and his detractors point to Eriksson, Gagner, Sutter and Gudbranson. I would much rather have the Canucks of the next three years building through the draft than signing free agents or making trades for foundational players.

      • Holly Wood

        I don’t know if many of us could stomach another 3 years while we wait for Gaudette and or Pettersson, that’s why I suggested a kick start through free agency. Demko may be the tender, but the black hole at centre and on the blue line needs addressed. With a true #1 in the lineup everything else falls into place. We have some decent wingers in Boesser, Virtanen, Leipsec and a lot of prospects on the way.

    • tyhee

      While what you say may make sense, but we have a general manager whose proponents point to Boesser, Pettersson and Gaudette and his detractors point to Eriksson, Gagner, Sutter and Gudbranson. I would much rather have the Canucks of the next three years building through the draft than signing free agents or making trades for foundational players.

  • Canuck70

    Excellent article! Very thought provoking. The Sedin’s could decide to retire then JB has no worries. They could ask to be re-signed but then it will firstly come down to money and term based on their demands. Management will look at the financials first obviously, and decide on term based on projected prospect development. It shouldn’t be too difficult. If the twins ask for too much then it should be a no. I’m thinking 6M per year. It would be an insult to pay them less than Erickson. It may be that a 1 year term would fit both the twins and management’s needs. As anything in life it will come down to affordability and need. As a lifelong Canucks fan I am so grateful to have experienced the amazing play of Henrik and Daniel. I would be happy for them if they retired. I also would not be upset if JB and Trevor decided that it is time to transition fully and not re-sign them. Hockey has always been about the team and not any one or two individuals.

  • Canuck70

    Looked at the free agent list for this summer. Canucks should go hard after centre Tavares and right shooting defenceman John Carlson. Both still under 30 and with great offensive numbers. If we keep on with tanking and win the lottery we can pick Dahlin and then we can seriously attract good free agents. The chance to play with Conner McDavid and possibly win a cup made Edmonton suddenly attractive. Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Pettersen, Demko, and the rest of the prospect pool along with Dahlin would make Vancouver look like a potential contender. Add the right free agents and it just gets better. Maybe signing the twins will impede a scenario like this if they are resigned and those dollars are not made available on July 1st. The Canucks finish, lottery pick and the draft itself will decide the future of this team more than anything.

    • argoleas

      If you think Canucks should go after Tavares and Carlson, then I invite you to make up a spreadsheet and project the cap hits for this team for the next 8 years (all teams do this), and you will realize you are staring at cap apocalypse. These two will ask for 8 yr deaks with no-movement clauses. Combined, they could easily cost $22M, and would demand Canucks spend to bring in players to make this team competitive immediately. Moreover, this team would be forced to trade away some of these young players because their ELCs would end, and their fair contract demands would not fit under the cap.

      And if they draft Dahlin on top of that? Crap, think what HIS ELC will turn into in 3 years. I’ll give you a hint: Eichel. And that’s if Dahlin is just slightly less spectacular that what everyone projects he will be.

      Bringing just one of them short-circuits the rebuild (yes it’s still a frigging rebuild).

      No. Thanks.

      Expensive UFAs can be brought in once your core starts showing what it has, so that’s no earlier than 20-21 season.

  • TD

    Before or at the beginning of the season, the Canucks said it would be up to the Sedins if they want to return. The Sedins said they would look at one year contracts from this point on until they retire. If this is true, the Decision is in the Sedins hands. There will also not be any long term deals.

    i can see either scenario happening. They are putting up decent numbers still which may cause them to want to return. But most of their points are in the power play and they often struggle without the puck at even strength. They may want to retire before their games go completely off a cliff. Either way, it’s up to the Canucks.

    I’m all for weaponizing cap space, but I’m not the one paying for the bad contracts. Aquillini seems to be very concerned about profits and revenue. Not sure he would want to give millions away. My biggest concern is that all their contracts will prevent the kids from getting a spot.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Strong arguments on both sides of the debate. Here are a couple other considerations on the Don’t Re-sign side.

    The Sedins’ points over state their value. Their stats on takeaways vs giveaways are as terrible as their +/-. Given their highly sheltered role of O zone starts and PP the points are padded.

    The Sedins currently play the minutes most desirable for a young player. If Pettersson was sheltered next year as much as Henrik this year he would put up more points than Henrik especially on the powerplay. Pettersson is a good passer (not as good as Henrik) and he has a very good shot. With Boeser and any kind of upgrade on the point the powerplay becomes absolutely lethal. There are a number of decent wingers in the system that would benefit from playing the kind of sheltered minutes Daniel gets. Those sheltered roles just aren’t available to young guys if the Sedins stay.

    The need to move on from the Sedins isn’t urgent and the arguments to keep them are reasonable but I think the time has come.

  • Puckwatcher

    The price of a commodity is determined by demand. The key question, then, is how much demand is there for two 37-year-old players whose swan song is coming soon to an arena near you? Very little, I’d guess. That’s why if I were Benning, I’d lowball them on a one-year contract. Where else could they go? To be blunt, Vancouver will never escape mediocrity if its management team continues to pour buckets of money into mediocre and/or fading players (eg., Erickson, Gudbranson, Sutter). Spend it on youth!

  • Dirty30

    How many more seasons does this team give the Sedins another shot at … well, whatever this is now?

    Try to move Loui, Sutter, Guddy, Gagner, Del Zotto and fill the spots with prospects and free agents to be flipped for picks.

    Just rebuild the damn team and get on with it already.

    And BTW: if Jimmy Pattinson can take on running Expo 86 for a dollar for the good of Vancouver don’t tell me that offering the Sedins five million a year each is an insult. Particularly when they won’t go anywhere else so their value is essentially somewhere between zero and a reasonable offer from the Canucks. If they won’t be traded for the good of the team then at least give the team enough leeway in cap space to find and sign players willing to be traded or who can play a few more seasons.

    This sentimentality around the Sedins is nice but this is also a business and its time to act like one.

    • liqueur des fenetres

      Jimmy didn’t have to worry about some psychopath on skates driving an elbow into his head for the lolz.

      My fear is that the Sedins feel they have unfinished business on the team and will return for another year. They haven’t had anyone to mentor besides Brock (Virtanen doesn’t seem open to learning) and so will stick around to give the next wave of players their insights into success.

      The team has been brutal over the last few seasons but have never quit on their coach, and I’m thinking that’s a testament to the Sedins and their character. I’d like to see them retire right now though, because it’s just sad seeing them have to play with such a dull line up.

      • Dirty30

        Well, you likely didn’t know Jimmy if you don’t think there wasn’t some psycho on skates trying to kill him for LOLZ.

        Anyone remember the infamous Brian Burke interview where Trent Klatt was holding out for more money and Brian simply stated that if Klatt didn’t like what was being offered that he would “drive him to the airport myself!” The Sedins have obviously earned the right to more respect and consideration — cash or otherwise — than that … but it is time to move on from sentimentality and ask what they offer give all the conditions that exist around them. Maybe $5 mil doesn’t buy you the same loyalty or skill, but it should buy you the ability to flip that player for picks and accelerate the rebuild that has lagged because management has been pandering to the Sedins long after the conversation about direction should have been had (eg: well before Torts had to shout out about a ‘stale and tired’ roster).

        The Sedins are 37 and no longer care if this team wins the SC … I’m 57 and still give a flying-F for some stupid reason and want to have that SC party while I can still enjoy it. I’m not wanting to wait another 15 years before they get to the finals and lose. Get on with it!

        • KCasey

          I can see your point and all Dirty30, but without sounding to rude….theres a good chance that regardless of how well this team builds and contends there is a good chance you may never see the Canucks win the cup, however there is a guaranteed chance of you watching the Canucks retire 2 life long players. So while your perspective from a business standpoint is valid, from a historical stand point it becomes very short sighted. Like honestly man, the chances of this happening again for the Canuck from now until eternity is somewhere between slim and zero. The chances of it happening again in whats left of your 50 years of possible life is an absolute zero.

          • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

            Any fan from the last 10 years has seen Bure, Naslund, and Linden’s #’s go up to the rafters. Even Ray Bourque had the dignity to leave Beantown. Iginla, the same. Yzerman could have dragged himself around a few more yrs on the DET 3rd line but he had already won his cups. The guaranteed chance of watching the Canucks retire 2 life long players doesn’t seem all that important. Especially when trends demonstrate that more and more often mediocrity is being celebrated and put on the same pedastal as historic (see the litany of HHOF inductees of recent)

  • Ken Priestlay Fan

    I feel like signing Hank and Dank for another year is a good idea IF other assets (I’m looking at you Sven and Brandon) with reasonable value are traded now. Space needs to be made for at least Pettersson and possibly Gaudette, with Dahlen, Lind, Gadjovich, Palmu, etc., not too far behind. There’s only really Dowd from this year’s forward group that seems certain to be jettisoned and so how else is opportunity going to be created for young blood? If they trade some roster players for assets, bring a couple of young players through and then view the Sedins as place holders for the next gen, then fine. If they bring the Sedins back so they can rerun this season, then no thanks

  • TravelingCanuck

    I thought having Mats Sundin on the Canucks for half a season was a disaster. The Sedins on the other hand praised his mentor ship and suggested it had a huge impact on their play moving forward. I suggest that you get these young guns on the team next year with the Sedins and hope that their leadership and hard work rubs off.

    • Giant-Nation

      Pettersson is our biggest asset right now, if the kid makes the team it would be huge if he could live with Danny or Hank for a few months upon arrival. The Lottery thing as well if by some fluke we win and select Dahlin then we have two star Swedes that could make the team – if either of those guys are in the team the Sedins intangible effect becomes huge. Especially if your trading Tanev and losing another solid vet. It says something how management values the DZ on the team for that pro approach even though he’s not that great of a player. I think they are worried about lack of leadership in the room,l.

  • Nuck16

    Lots of talk about whether they are still useful and can still produce and you can argue the are and can, but you take that $10 mil budget and throw it at a single free agent, which then frees up that 2nd roster spot, meaning instead of trading Baer when his value is low, you give him another year to show what he can do. I think we’d be a better team in both the short and long run with this approach.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      And how is that $10M contract going to look in 8 years? How about in 3 years? The only notable players that can/will theoretically fetch that price this summer are Tavares and Carlson. The avg age of peak performance for hockey players today is between 23-24. Tavares and Carlson will be 28 before next season begins. Are there ANY contracts out there for 7-8 years which have not been completely and absolutely regretted for players of that age or older?

  • LTFan

    Good article JD. I say they come back for one more season. How much – $4.5 to $5 million each. Looking on the positive side, say we get the #1 Pick overall at the Draft. That would be Dahlin and finally a potential stud D. Pettersson should make the team and Dahlen has a good chance. The Sedins would be great mentors for this group of young players. Add in Thatcher Demko as the backup goalie and hopefully Olli Juolevi is good enough to make the team.

  • Nuck16

    “does Canucks general manager Jim Benning want to be the one to say no to the two greatest people and players in the franchise’s history?”
    Different sport, but the Viking GM said no to Favre so that Aaron Rogers could start…hard to call that a mistake. In the end, it’s a business and you do what’s right for the team.

  • Canuck70

    In my previous posts on this subject I suggested that the return of the Sedins for next season would be acceptable based on the players who could replace them. I think it is definitely time for the canucks to not sign then and move on. Why? Because we need the cap space to go after free agents. Take a look at who the Canucks have available up front. Horvat, Boeser, and Baertschi. Pettersen, Dahlen, and Lind. Sutter, Erickson, and Gadjovich. Liepsic, Gaudette, and Granlund.
    Where is the room for the Sedin’s? In order to further improve this team the Canucks must look at the available free agents this summer and next. This summer John Tavares is the big catch. He is only 27 years old. He is a top player and will likely remain so for the next 4-5 seasons. The opportunity to get him is now! This summer! Once he signs with a team for money and term than the likelihood of ever having that opportunity again will be very small. Carlson from Washington also is available this summer. Right handed shot, offensive producer, 28 years old and available in July. Both players fill needs that the Canucks have. Take a look at what the Canucks defense might look like after July 1st. Dahlin, Carlson, Tanev, and Edler as the top four. Juolevi, Gudbranson, Stetcher, and Pouliot also. In one summer the defence looks incredibly improved. This roster can be possible with luck at the draft and also aggressive efforts at the free agent market. Not signing the Sedin’s before July 1st gives the Canucks the cap space to sign Tavares and Carlson. For 2018 there are no other free agents available below the age of 30 that are as good as those two. I have not looked at which players become ufa’s in 2019.

    • TD

      There is no way all those prospects will be ready for the NHL, but your point is valid. I’m okay with signing the Sedins, but other players will have to go to make room for some youth on the team.

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      You sound just like MGMT! IF our young guys step up and IF our veterans continue to produce, and IF our defence contributes to a larger extent, and IF our goaltending keeps trending upwards, and IF our prospects continue to progress, and IF we don’t sustain catastrophic injuries (like last year and the year before, and this year) and IF we can flip expiring contracts for younger prospects/picks, then we will just fine 🙂

  • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

    You used the term “going rate” for players of their production. Firstly, this term is only applicable IF there were interest from ANY other clubs. Secondly, is this not a business? Is getting the most value or bang for your buck not a serious tenet of good business? Third, they’re going to be 38. This isn’t 1995, NOBODY is looking to clog up their roster with old veterans in 2018 when younger, faster, quicker are the most important characteristics. Much less two of them (thereby hindering the development of younger, faster, quicker players by taking up valuable roster spots).
    I don’t agree that lowballing them (and I mean severely lowballing them) is either bad business or bad for your ‘culture’ of hockey. Hockey players know first and foremost that their choice of profession is a business. What is the team worried about? That fans will walk past them in the future and see a less visible smile on their faces? That it will take a future mgmt group to ‘heal’ the broken bond of camaraderie established beforehand in order to have them show up for their jersey raisings? You want them to walk off into the sunshine with big smiles? Imagine if CGY had done the same with Iginla… What if they decide they want to play for like 3 more years, or to play til Jagr played til? Is it fair to basically hold a team hostage monetarily because the team suffers from simply being too darn nice and too much of a doormat when it comes to making hard hockey decisions?
    Just some thoughts…

  • Rodeobill

    This issue is interesting and it’s conclusion will heavily impact the team going forward. Good and fair article. I think is an issue that really needs to be addressed after the draft. If we end up moving out some roster players before then (here’s hoping) for picks, and we have more cap and space to fill in the middle six the situation will be different. Also (fingers crossed) If we get a good Swedish D that jumps onto the team with Petterson, I can imagine their leadership and intangibles being even more valuable as well. Let’s just hope JB is busy before the draft and revisit the issue then.

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Oilers fan here… Please don’t throw things, my team sucks too.
    I’ve found many comments about the Sedin twins interesting. Let’s see if I have my facts straight.
    -They have 40+pts each
    -They are 37
    -They are UFAs this summer
    -The Canucks are 3rd last in the NHL
    -The team has some seriously good young talent.
    -Lots of cap space come July 1st.

    Seems to me like the only questions are: 1) can 1-2 UFAs improve the team more than having the Sedins back next season? 2) will the UFA(s) come to Vancouver? 3) can management bring the Sedins back AND afford a high-quality UFA?

    It seems to me that if the plan was for them not to be on the team next year, they would’ve been dealt for picks at some point before the trade deadline. No?