Sedins Could Face Pressure to Accept a Trade
Long-time Vancouver Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin will be unrestricted free agents next summer. After spending their entire 16-season NHL careers in Vancouver, 2017-18 could be their final campaign with the Canucks.
The twins turn 37 on Sept. 26 and their best years are behind them. Daniel’s 44-point effort in 2016-17 was his lowest in a non-lockout year since tallying 31 points in 2002-03. Henrik’s 50 points matched his 2013-14 output under then-coach John Tortorella’ defense-first system and was his lowest since his 42-point campaign in 2003-04.
Approaching the twilight of their professional careers, the Sedins are the Canucks’ greatest players (with all due respect to Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden), though it will take some time for their harshest critics – many of them Canucks fans – to accept that fact. They’re the franchise leaders in most offensive categories.
Given their pending free-agent status and the Canucks’ current rebuilding process, it’s doubtful the Sedins factor into the club’s plans beyond this season. Management could simply part company with the twins next July. However, they could also attempt to trade one or both before the Feb. 26, 2018 trade deadline.
Daniel Sedin recently said he and his brother do not want to be traded. Indeed, they appear keen to retire as Canucks. General manager Jim Benning claims he has no intention of trading the duo unless they ask to be moved.
There’s no reason to doubt the sincerity of either side on that issue. However, if the Sedins have a decent season and the Canucks are out of playoff contention come February, a postseason contender could come calling with a package offer for one or both players that could speed up Vancouver’s rebuilding process.
That might persuade Benning to approach the twins and gauge their willingness to accept a trade to a possible Stanley Cup contender. Even if Benning stands by his pledge not to move the Sedins unless they approach him first, any report claiming he received a tantalizing offer will prompt many Vancouver fans and pundits to call upon the Canucks GM to convince the Sedins to accept a trade.
There will be those who feel the Sedins should remain loyal to the Canucks and finish their careers with the only NHL team they’ve known. Others, however, will insist they “do the right thing” and “put the team first” by accepting a trade.
It’s the same scenario Hall of Fame center Mats Sundin, the Sedins’ fellow countryman and one-time teammate, faced during his final season with the Toronto Maple Leafs a decade ago.
Like the Sedins, Sundin was nearing both the end of his contract and NHL playing career, the bulk of which he’d spent with the Leafs.
As the Leafs floundered through a disappointing 2007-08 season, there were calls for Sundin to be shipped to a Cup contender for a package of draft picks and young talent. The Detroit Red Wings, then a league powerhouse that went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, were believed to be among the interested parties.
Sundin, however, wasn’t comfortable with being a rental player and refused to waive his no-trade clause. Rather than earn praise for his loyalty from Leafs fans, many were infuriated, accusing their captain and long-time franchise player of selfishness.
The Sedins can expect similar treatment if they follow Sundin’s example, especially if the Canucks are out of contention by the trade deadline.
If the Sedins insist on finishing the season, and their careers, with the Canucks, they’ve earned that right. No one should fault them for using their no-movement clauses in their contracts to stay in Vancouver.
Linden and Benning didn’t sign the Sedins to those deals but they have obviously decided to honor them. Judging by their recent remarks, they feel the twins are still an important part of the team this season.
Perhaps if the Canucks were the dominant club they were earlier in this decade, there wouldn’t be any suggestion of the club trading their fading franchise players.
If the Canucks exceed expectations in 2017-18 and contend for a playoff berth, there probably won’t be much pressure from the Vancouver faithful to shop the Sedins. But if the Canucks are out of contention by February, those calls will get louder.
Leafs fans eventually forgave Sundin, who is considered among the greatest players in franchise history. Canucks fans will also do the same for the Sedins if they also refused to waive their no-trade clauses. But in the short term, the potential end of the twins’ long career in Vancouver could become a rocky one.