Daniel Sedin

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Golden Knights score 9 goals, rout Canucks in first preseason game

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It may not have counted in the official standings, but the Vegas Golden Knights hit the ice for a game for the first time on Sunday afternoon and put on quite a show.

The Golden Knights absolutely obliterated the Vancouver Canucks by a 9-4 margin in their first exhibition game thanks to four-goal outbursts in the first and third periods.

Leading the way for the Golden Knights on Sunday was 21-year-old forward Tyler Wong.

Wong not only opened the scoring for the Golden Knights just 4:58 into the game, he added two more goals later in the game to complete the hat trick. He also picked up an assist for a four-point night.

Nick Suzuki, one of three first-round picks by the Golden Knights, also scored in the win.

Both teams used fairly bare bones rosters that were made up mostly of prospects, but Vegas’ young players clearly ended up getting the better of the play with nine goals from six different players and 38 shots on goal.

Vegas didn’t have Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith or David Perron in the lineup, while the Canucks didn’t use Henrik or Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Bo Horvat, Thomas Vanek, or any of the regular defenseman.

The Golden Knights continue their preseason on Tuesday night when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.

They will play their first home preseason game on Tuesday, September 26 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Sedins want to win Stanley Cup but only with Canucks

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Whether management wants to admit it or not, the Vancouver Canucks are in need of a rebuild. They have missed the playoffs in three of the past four years, their two best players — Henrik and Daniel Sedin — are one year older and entering their final year of their contracts, and the short-term prospects for the upcoming season seem less than optimistic.

Because of those points it’s natural to wonder about the future of the Sedins and whether or not the team might try to trade them, if the twins might be willing to move on, and if such a move would ever get completed.

In a Player’s Tribune article published on Monday Henrik and Daniel did their part to make it very clear where they intend to be and where they intend to finish their careers — Vancouver.

Some excerpts, first from Daniel.

But obviously we are not 26. We’re 36. And with one year left on our contracts, many people are asking us what the future holds. When the time is right, we will sit down with management and discuss it. People say our window for winning a Cup has closed, but we have said it before, and we will say it again. We won’t play anywhere else. If we are going to win a Stanley Cup, if we are going to achieve our dream, we’d only want it to be in Vancouver. If we did it anywhere else, I don’t think it would feel the same.

Later in the piece Henrik echoed a similar sentiment.

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.

Makes it seem pretty clear what their intentions are should any of those discussions with management ever come up.

You can read the entire piece at the Player’s Tribune.

The Sedins have spent their entire careers playing in Vancouver ever since former general manager Brian Burke orchestrated a series of trades to secure the No. 2 and 3 overall picks in the 1999 NHL draft. During their careers they have been two of the best players in the league and one of the most dominant duos the league has ever seen. They have yet to get that Stanley Cup for Vancouver but did help lead the team to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies, while each of them has won a league scoring title.

The unfortunate reality for them when it comes to the Stanley Cup dream, however, is that they may have in fact missed that window to win it. The team on the ice around them just isn’t particularly strong. They were second worst team in the league this past season and only made marginal changes to the roster. It is still a team that is probably several years away from being a serious Stanley Cup contender again.

Horvat believes he is ‘just scratching the surface’

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The Vancouver Canucks were finally able to sign restricted free agent Bo Horvat to a new contract on Friday, giving him a six-year, $33 million contract.

The team is obviously excited about what Horvat has accomplished and what he is capable of in the future with general manager Jim Benning calling him a “foundational player.”

Horvat, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, chosen with the pick that was acquired in the Cory Schneider trade with the New Jersey Devils, had his best year to date in 2016-17 by scoring 20 goals and recording 32 assists, leading the team in both goals and total points. It was the first time since the 2005-06 season that a player other than Henrik or Daniel Sedin finished as the team’s leading scorer (Markus Naslund was the leading scorer that year).

Just now entering his age 22 season, Horvat should be entering the portion of his career where he is capable of his best hockey, and that has to be an encouraging sign for the Canucks given what he has already shown. His production has improved steadily across the board every year that he has been in the league and this past season he took a big step toward being a reliable top-line scorer.

He believes that he is just now starting to scratch the surface.

Here he is talking about his new deal on Friday, via Sportsnet’s Iian MacIntyre:

“I did,” he said today. “(But) I think them signing me to a long-term deal means that they they have a lot of support for me and they believe in me. I’m really humbled by that and, obviously, I respect them for that.

“I think I’m just scratching the surface. I’ve only been in the league three years. These next six years is where I can really step up my game and prove myself.”

He was one of just 11 players age 21 or younger to score at least 20 goals and record at least 50 points this past season, joining a list that included Connor McDavid, Austin Matthews, Patrik Laine, Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak, Nikolaj Ehlers, Jack Eichel, William Nylander, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Drouin.

The bad news for the Canucks as a team is that are still looking at what will probably be another long season in 2017-18, especially as the Sedins get one year closer to retirement.

But Horvat, assuming he continues to develop as he has over his first three years in the league, is at least one player that should provide a little bit of hope for the future.

Vanek should be able to help Canucks’ dreadful power play

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The Vancouver Canucks added another veteran player to their roster on Friday night when they signed Thomas Vanek to a one-year, $2 million contract.

It is not a move on its own that is going to push the Canucks back into playoff contention on its, but it is fine value in free agency for a veteran forward that still has some ability and could potentially be flipped at the deadline for another prospect or draft pick if the Canucks are out of it. In the short-term one area that he might be able to help the Canucks on the ice is adding a little bit more spark to a power play unit that has been one of the worst in the NHL the past two seasons.

“That’s one of my specialties,” Vanek said, via NHL.com on Friday night, shortly after the signing was announced. “I think I am still very good in front of the net and tipping pucks and reading other players and finding that open space, so it’s definitely in my mindset to come in there and work for that power-play time.”

Since the 2005-06 season only Alex Ovechkin has scored more power play goals than Vanek’s 129. He scored five this past season in only 68 games split between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. That is a pretty far drop from what he used to be able to do during his peak seasons in Buffalo, but keep in mind there were only two Canucks players (Daniel Sedin with six and Loui Eriksson with five) that scored five power play goals this past season.

The Canucks finished with the second-worst power play unit in the league this past season, converting on only 14.1 percent of their chances. Only the Colorado Avalanche (12.6 percent) were worse. In 2015-16 the Canucks were 27th at 15.8 percent. Over the two years combined their 15 percent success rate has been the worst in the NHL. That has helped contribute to a team that has been one of the lowest scoring teams in the league (29th in goals for each year).

Vanek scored 17 goals to go with 31 assists in his 68 games this past season with the Red Wings and Panthers. On a per-game level his production was the highest it had been in four years.

Poll: Will this be the Sedins’ final season in Vancouver?

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This post is part of Canucks Day on PHT…

Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin have been pillars of the Canucks’ franchise for much of their career. The twins will turn 37 in September though and have just a single season remaining on their matching four-year, $28 million contracts.

They’re at an age where they’re clearly in the twilight of their career, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the curtain is about to fall. There are elite players like Jaromir Jagr that have managed to stay relevant beyond their 30s, but those are few and far between.

If the 2016-17 campaign was any indication, the Sedin twins’ end might be fast approaching. Henrik finished with 50 points while Daniel was limited to 44. Their modest production was a big reason why the Canucks averaged just 2.17 goals for per game last season, which ranked 29th in the league. It’s a long way from their height when Henrik won the Art Ross Trophy in 2009-10 and Daniel claimed it in 2010-11.

“We think about our future on a regular basis, and we’ve said we’re going to take it year by year now,” Henrik Sedin said, per NHL.com. “This year, we want to prove we can still play at a high level, and that’s up to us to do. And we know that if we do, it’ll be easier to answer those questions later in the year. So that’s our mindset.”

Even if the Sedin twins decide to extend their careers, will it ultimately be with the Canucks? If Vancouver has another bad season, would it make sense to keep two aging forwards on the roster? Maybe it would, given that this is the Sedin twins we’re talking about and it would be good to see them ultimately retire as Canucks. On the flip side though, would the Sedin twins have any interest in exploring other possibilities if it was clear that the Canucks were firmly focused on rebuilding while they have very little time left in the NHL?

So do you ultimately believe that this is their last season in Vancouver or will they continue playing for the franchise beyond 2017-18?

Related: Sedins out to prove they can still play at ‘high level’