Vancouver Canucks: Will They Need to Trade the Sedin Twins?

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 04:  Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks and Daniel Sedin #22 of the Vancouver Canucks warm up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on February 4, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Canucks defeated the Avalanche 3-2 in an overtime shoot out.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

For more than a decade, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have been the quintessential Vancouver Canucks.

After the twins made it clear that they wanted to play together in the NHL, then-Canucks GM Brian Burke put together a deal which allowed Vancouver to choose them second and third overall in the 1999 entry draft.

The early years were bumpy, but the pair have emerged as elite players. Each has won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer. Daniel took home the Ted Lindsay Award as the most valuable player as voted by his peers in 2011 while Henrik won the Hart Trophy as the MVP voted by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association in 2010.

As captain for the last two seasons, Henrik led the Canucks to back-to-back Presidents' Trophies and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

In many ways, the twins are the faces of the most successful era in Vancouver's franchise history. But they're now 32 years old, reaching an age where NHL productivity typically starts to decline.

With no clear youth movement in place for the Canucks, it's stressful for fans to contemplate the idea that the Stanley Cup window of opportunity may not be open for much longer. It's also worrisome to ponder the fate of the team's core group as they grow older, especially in a future that will probably see a tighter salary cap than ever.

In late November, Daniel Sedin told Jason Botchford of The Province that he and Henrik are thinking small when it comes to the future of their careers:

“We’re already taking it year by year right now,” Daniel said. “We have a year and a half on this current contract and then mentally I think it will be easier if we go year by year after that.

“Mentally, when you get to this age, to be able to perform, you have to be there. I really believe if you sign a long-term deal it will be tougher to perform on a nightly basis.”

Essentially, he’s saying to stay motivated and emotionally invested, the 32-year-old Sedins will look at making every year a contract year.

It's an unusual idea. What does it mean for the Canucks?

Typically, franchises look to lock up their stars for extended periods, creating a consistent core on the ice and cost certainty in the front office. And typically, players heading into the twilight of their careers look for longer-term deals to guarantee them some stability and financial security.

If Daniel and Henrik choose to sign only one-year deals once their present contract expires, that means they'd be constantly on the verge of free agency—able to market their services to the highest bidder. That would upset team chemistry and could also spike their market value if they continue to perform at their current high level.

On the other hand, the Canucks could stand to benefit from such a structure.

Every dollar will likely need to be micromanaged once the new salary cap comes into play, and a year-by-year structure with the Sedins could give management room to maneuver down the road. Also, if Daniel or Henrik suffer a serious injury or their play abruptly declines, the team wouldn't be locked into a cumbersome long-term cap hit.

There's every reason to believe that the twins will want to continue playing together until they retire, and they're entrenched in Vancouver—both in the hockey team and the wider community.

One would guess they'd stay loyal unless drastic circumstances intervened. On the verge of free agency in 2009, the twins waited until the last minute to re-sign with Vancouver, but when they did so, it was below market value, and later that year they made a $1.5 million charitable donation to the community, to help build a new BC Childrens' Hospital.

If the Canucks can't lock up the twins, a trade might make sense, but only if the team's fortunes were already on the decline and another squad was willing to give up some young, quality assets.

For the immediate future, Vancouver still has a solid core in place, and the Sedins' loyalty to Vancouver looks strong enough that one would have to take Daniel at his word: the idea of year-to-year contracts is meant to serve more as personal motivation than any indication that these important players might have one foot out the door.

The Sedins have been loyal to Vancouver. The Canucks will likely remain loyal to the Sedins.


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