It’s hard to imagine the Vancouver Canucks without Henrik or Daniel Sedin. The brothers have been faces of the franchise since getting drafted together with top-three picks in 1999. The team has been rewarded with 11 playoff appearances, a Stanley Cup Final Game 7, and a lot of other great memories over the past 18 years.
But now entering the 2017-18 season coming off back-to-back losing seasons, the future of this fruitful partnership remains as uncertain as ever. Both Sedins have one year left on the matching four-year, $28 million contracts they signed together in 2013. The Canucks are at a crossroads, in need of building around a new young core.
To their credit, the Sedins don’t seem interested in leaving. “If they see a future for us then we might have another year in us here after next year,” Henrik said to FanRag Sports in April. “If not, I don’t think we’re prepared to go anywhere else.”
The problem is that the Canucks may be ready to enter a new era. They have young players such as Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser to build around, and could use the millions in cap space that’ll be opened by removing the Sedins’ huge cap hits from the books. If the team decides to go all-in on a rebuilding plan, there may not be room in Vancouver for two players who defined hockey in the area over the past two decades.
However, if last season was any indication, there’s still some life left in those two. Henrik finished second on the Canucks with 50 points in 82 games last season. Daniel was right behind with 44 points, and would’ve had more than 15 goals if he didn’t shoot 6.9 percent for the season.
So this could be the final year of the Sedins in the NHL, but only if a bunch of variables come together to lead to their retirement.
Here are the various ways this scenario could play out over the next year.
Sedins play out the season, then retire in 2018
It would be sad to see the Sedins end their careers without winning a Stanley Cup, but going out together after an incredible 17 seasons together in Vancouver would still be worthy of admiration. If they’re really serious about declining to play for other NHL teams, it’s possible the upcoming season is their last.
The Canucks could decide to offer them less money than they’re willing to play, or could decline to offer them new deals at all. The brothers could also retire on their own accord. Either way, they’ve open the door to retire in a year.
Sedins play out the season, then re-sign with Vancouver
The Canucks could also decide to bring back the Sedins next summer on short-term deals to maintain a veteran presence in the locker room. Vancouver needs to start building around Horvat, Boeser, Troy Stecher, and 2017 first-round pick Elias Pettersson, but the Sedins could still be worth having around if the price is right. Vancouver should have ample cap space with their combined $14 million off the books, even if it’d want to be careful with term on over-35 contracts.
Sedins play out the season, then sign elsewhere to pursue Stanley Cup glory
It wouldn’t be unheard of for a player to claim he didn’t want to play anywhere else, only to do just that once the right opportunity arose. The Sedins might be a unique situation given they’re brothers who’ve played together in one city for almost 20 years, but it’s always possible some team comes out next offseason with the perfect pitch to convince them to play outside Vancouver. Presumably that would involve the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, one of the few things missing from their combined resume now.
The Canucks try to trade the Sedins before the deadline
This is the wild card move, and it’s unlikely given that both Sedins have complete no-movement clauses. They’d need to approve any trade the Canucks agree to, which puts a wrench in any attempt to move them. When you see quotes like the one above from Henrik, it doesn’t exactly give the vibe that they’d be willing to move midseason from the only NHL franchise they’ve ever known.
You also figure they’d never agree to be traded separately, so finding a team willing to take on the combined $14 million in cap space would be a challenge in itself. All of these factors make it an unlikely scenario.
But what if the Canucks really struggle next season, and there’s no hope of making the playoffs? Would the Sedins then be willing to waive their NMCs if it meant the chance at moving to a team with a shot at the Stanley Cup? The number of things that would need to happen for a deal to go down makes it improbable, but it’s not impossible to imagine.