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?
We’re closing in on training camp at this point and Bo Horvat is still a restricted free agent. That’s not something that seems to concern Canucks president Trevor Linden, who feels the two sides aren’t far apart.
“We’ve had some good conversations with Bo and his reps … we’re moving along and I don’t see any issues,” Linden told TSN 1040 (H/T to the Score).
The Canucks and Horvat have taken their time exploring a lot of different options, ranging from two-year to eight-year contracts. It’ll be interesting to see what route they ultimately take.
Horvat had 20 goals and 52 points in 81 contests in his third campaign in the NHL. He only celebrated his 22nd birthday in April so it’s not unreasonable to believe he still has untapped upside left. So while a bridge contract would be the safer option, the Canucks might ultimately be better off if they can find a way to ink him to a long-term deal.
If a lengthy contract is the goal, then part of the reason it’s taken this long might be the relative lack of good comparables. If you’re talking about forwards who signed a five-year deal or longer off their entry-level contract, then you don’t have a lot to choose from. This summer the examples of that are Jonathan Drouin, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Draisaitl and McDavid are obvious non-starters, but Drouin is less so given that his 21 goals and 53 points mirrors Horvat’s 2016-17 production fairly well.
Drouin is generally seen as having more offensive upside though, but he also has less NHL experience than Horvat. Drouin’s contract was a six-year, $33 million deal so it would be interesting if Horvat was hoping to get something similar, citing his similar productive last season as the primary argument.
If you went back to the summer of 2016 then you could pull on examples like Victor Rask, who signed a six-year, $24 million deal after recording 21 goals and 48 points in his sophomore season as a center. Or Vincent Trocheck, another center that got a six-year, $28.5 million contract after getting 53 points after his third NHL season and first full campaign. Those might be the contracts that the Canucks point to if the two sides are heading towards a long-term deal.
Loui Eriksson has to be a contender for the biggest disappointment of the 2016-17 campaign.
When Vancouver signed him to a six-year, $36 million contract in the summer of 2016 he was coming off a 30-goal campaign with Boston and the hope was that he would mesh with the Sedin twins on the top line. In the end though, Eriksson had just 11 goals and 24 points in 65 games, making it his least productive season since the 32-year-old forward’s rookie campaign.
There are ways to look at his campaign and see silver linings. From a Corsi and Fenwick perspective he performed better than the Canucks overall. His shooting percentage of 8.3 was way down from 2015-16 and his career average so you could argue that perhaps he was dealing with some bad luck. Even still, it’s hard to find a way to feel upbeat about a campaign that went that badly.
For better or worse, that was just the first year of six on his contract. Now the question turns to if he can bounce back, at least to some degree. He is still just 32-years-old so a comeback wouldn’t be shocking. However, if he goes through another season like he just endured then talk might even transition to a buyout next summer despite how long is left on that deal.
On the flip side if Eriksson is able to rebound then he could be one of the leaders on this transitioning team. With the Sedin twins set to celebrate their 37th birthday on Sept. 26 and entering the final season of their contract, their tenure with the Canucks might be drawing to a close. Even in a best case scenario, Eriksson isn’t a replacement on the ice for what the twins once were, but he could become the guiding force by setting a positive example for the younger players through what might be some difficult rebuilding years.
That would provide the squad with some value and make his contract feel more justified in the long run.
Thomas Vanek might not be the elite player he once was, but he’s still a solid contributor which makes the fact that he remains unsigned as we near September surprising. His wait might be nearing its end though.
”I do feel optimistic that something will come through for both of these guys in the next week or two,” Vanek’s agent agent Steve Bartlett said on Buffalo’s WGR 550, per TSN.ca. “And I think definitely the temperature has risen from teams around the league on both players.”
Vanek had 17 goals and 48 points in 68 contests with the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers in 2016-17, which isn’t bad production considering he was averaging a modest 14:24 minutes per game. In fact, for what it’s worth Vanek did finish 16th in the league in points per 60 minutes, which was just below the 75-point Vladimir Tarasenko, who of course got considerably more ice time.
That’s not to suggest that Vanek could have done as well as Tarasenko had they gotten equal use, but it does highlight how productive Vanek was relative to his minutes. He could be a nice bargain bin pickup for whatever team finally inks him.
Part of the challenge facing the Los Angeles Kings right now is that they’re light on noteworthy prospects, but there’s still some young players to watch within their system.
One of them is Adrian Kempe, who made his NHL debut last season and could be a full-time player with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017-18. While he can serve as a winger, there’s a potential opening on the Kings for a third-line center and Kempe might slot into that position. That wouldn’t be a bad role for him as he’s capable defensively.
The bigger question with Kempe is what he might bring to the table offensively. He made a great first impression within the Kings’ organization when he scored eight goals in 17 playoff games with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs in 2014, but since then his offensive numbers have been underwhelming. He had 12 goals and 20 points in 46 AHL contests last season as well as two goals and six points in 25 games with the Kings.
He’s still just 20-years-old though (he’ll turn 21 in September), so he has time to grow offensively. It helps that he has size and speed among his advantages. He’s got a high hockey IQ too, which was on display when he scored his first NHL goal.
He needs to show that he can play at that level consistently though and whether or not he can do that will determine his future value to the team. Maybe he can become a top-six forward, but perhaps he’ll end up in more of a supporting role.
He also needs to improve on the draw if his future is as a center. He only won 43.8% of his 153 faceoffs with the Kings last season, so that was an obvious negative.
It’ll be interesting to see how that all plays out in 2017-18 and beyond. Especially given their currently underwhelming farm system (albeit improved with the selection of Gabriel Vilardi with the 11th pick this year), it would go a long way towards securing the Kings’ future if Kempe’s flashes of greatness manifested into him becoming a more reliable player.