The Vancouver Canucks' championship window is closing, and whether the team is going to make one last push toward the Stanley Cup or begin an inevitable rebuild will likely depend on the terms of the next contracts given to Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The Sedin twins have been responsible for much of the team's impressive success since they were drafted by the Canucks with the second and third overall selections of the 1999 NHL draft. Last season, Henrik became the team's all-time leading scorer.
But with just a year left on the Sedins' matching contracts that pay them $6.1 million annually, Vancouver has a tough decision to make: Is it time to rebuild and stock the bare cupboards with quality prospects, or should general manager Mike Gillis extend the team's window of competitiveness by a few more years with new extensions for Henrik and Daniel?
The best decision is to prolong the Sedin era for a few more years. The twins have shown no desire to leave Vancouver, despite the fact that testing the free-agent market would likely allow them to make much more money.
As unselfish players with no Stanley Cup rings on their resumes, it's hard to imagine the Sedins not taking another pair of team-friendly deals to help Gillis surround them with enough talent to compete for championships.
Henrik recently talked about their future with the Canucks to Sportsnet Pacific:
I’m sure we’re going to talk before training camp and see where we are. For us there’s no rush, I mean, if things can get done we’re more than happy, but if not we’re happy to wait.
There's no secret that we like where we are, I think everyone knows that...
Starting a rebuild, which would probably happen quickly if the Sedins left in the near future, isn't the best option for the Canucks based on the amount of talented veterans under contract for the next few years.
Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, David Booth, Chris Higgins, Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis and goaltender Roberto Luongo are all signed for at least two more years. With this veteran core in place, Vancouver should remain among the top contenders in the Western Conference for two or three additional seasons.
For the Canucks to get back to the Stanley Cup Final, the Sedins have to be part of the equation. Henrik or Daniel has led the club in scoring in each of the last seven seasons, while averaging 80.75 and 75.87 points per year in that span, respectively.
At 32 years old, the twins are still in the prime of their careers and capable of scoring at a point-per-game rate for at least another two seasons. As long as they remain on the same line, Henrik and Daniel will consistently rack up points because of their exceptional offensive skills and strong chemistry.
Like many other teams low in the rankings, Vancouver has drafted low over the past several years, and as a result, suffers from a lack of quality outside of the likes of Nicklas Jensen and Jordan Schroeder. The left wing position is particularly lacking and has no real quality prospects.
In three or four year's time, the Canucks should have enough quality prospects and young NHL talent to begin a proper rebuild.
Until then, the best decision is to give the Sedins new three- or four-year contracts and make a couple more runs at the Stanley Cup with new head coach John Tortorella.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL columnist at Bleacher Report. He was a credentialed writer at the 2011 and 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the 2012 NHL playoffs and the 2013 NHL draft. All salary information via CapGeek.