The Vancouver Canucks are a team that is floundering to find a path forward. After nearly a decade of remarkable regular seasons and a painfully close Cup run in 2011, the Canucks are solidly in the rebuilding phase of their franchise. They start the 2017-18 off-season with the 5th overall pick and many decent, if unremarkable, options at the slot to help further that process. (An impact center is always a welcome piece.) The organization has struggled mightily to move on past the era of Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, both of whom were consistently in the upper echelon of point-getters every season in their primes. Now 36 years-old, each player’s production has taken a nosedive. And the team hasn’t been able to draft difference makers up front to fill the void, despite this day being long anticipated.
Although wisdom is not often recognized as such until a later date, there was a sizable portion of the Canuck fanbase who had hope to move the Sedin twins just a few seasons ago. As soon as they missed the post-season in 2013-14 the writing was on the wall for the franchise. The move should have been made that season, or perhaps even the year prior. That season saw a massive decline in the twins’ production which has never fully recovered – Henrik down to 0.71 points per game from 0.93, and Daniel down to 0.64 PPG from 0.85.
The Sedins will undoubtedly have their numbers retired by the Vancouver organization and have given great years of hockey to the city. They may even be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but without a Stanley Cup to their credit that will be a difficult sell. Regardless of all that, their value to the team as assets was ignored in favor of the long-shot hope that the Canucks could compete once more with their core players. Former GM Mike Gillis had an up-and-down tenure, but utterly failed to move on past aging players and his drafting didn’t help. With five 1st-round picks in his tenure, only 2013’s Bo Horvat amounted to an offensive threat for the franchise. Brendan Gaunce, Nicklas Jensen, Jordan Schroeder, and Cody Hodgson are all busts relative to their potential. Worse, their late round picks were even less successful, amounting to no notable NHLers at all. Jim Benning hasn’t exactly inspired either since taking over management duties.
Trading the Sedins would have been a phenomenally difficult undertaking, especially considering their desire to play together. But the potential return would have been substantial from any team able to fit them in (at a reduced rate). Now the hour is far too late, and the Sedins have only one season remaining on their contracts. At this point, it seems sensible to merely re-sign them and let them finish their days in British Columbia. But the opportunity squandered to recover some value from declining marquee names will haunt the franchise for years to come. That failure should serve as a warning to teams around the league that prolonging the rebuilding phase can have dire consequences.