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Not going anywhere: Can't fault Sedins for loyalty, but Canucks lose two-fer trade chip

Daniel and Henrik Sedin have no interest in playing anywhere but Vancouver. It’s a commendable show of loyalty, but it might not be the most beneficial decision for the organization.

As Daniel and Henrik Sedin prepare to head into the final season of their respective contracts, there’s been no shortage of trade chatter and questions as to whether GM Jim Benning would entertain the idea of dealing the duo were commonplace in discussions about Vancouver’s upcoming campaign. But the Sedins made their feelings, and their decision, crystal clear on Monday. 

In a piece penned for The Players’ Tribune, the twins asserted that no, there is no interest in playing elsewhere this coming season. In fact, there’s no interest in playing elsewhere ever. Vancouver is their home away from home, the Sedins said, and, so it seems, there’s no reason for either to want to leave — not even the chance to win now or the possibility of a deep playoff run this season.

“If we’re going to win a Cup, we only want it to be with Vancouver – that will never change,” Henrik wrote. “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.”

The Sedins’ loyalty to the Canucks is incredibly admirable, as is their willingness to forego personal success in order to lead the franchise’s next generation. They’re two surefire Hall of Famers giving up the chance to skate off into the sunset with a championship in order to finish their career with the only NHL franchise they’ve ever known. The decision will be applauded, and well it should, by fans who can’t picture the twins in any other jersey, and the emotional connection the fan base has with Henrik and Daniel is sure to make it that much sweeter that the twins plan on playing their final games in a Canucks uniform.

Despite how respectable the Sedins’ decision is, however, it’s tough not to feel as though Vancouver would be better served by moving one or both at some point this coming campaign.

For the better part of the past two seasons, trading the 36-year-old Sedins has been a hot topic when it comes to the Canucks in large part because there would have been no better way to jump-start a complete rebuild of the organization. While both are undoubtedly at the tail end of their careers, watching their production slip as they cross over into their late 30s, it would be safe to say the Sedins would have been able to fetch a stellar return for Vancouver, particularly come the trade deadline if dealt to a top contender. Be it a package of picks or prospects, it would offer the Canucks a few extra pieces to work with going forward.

That could have still been the case this season, too. The return likely would have been lesser — after all, both Henrik and Daniel had their worst full-season totals in more than a decade in 2016-17 — but a team looking for an offensive boost surely would have come calling. Maybe it’s a mid-round pick and one prospect instead of a first-rounder and more for the pair, but those assets are more than the Canucks stand to receive when both twins hang up their skates. And Vancouver is in a position where getting something, anything, instead of nothing would be for the best.

There’s a rub here, of course. It’s the Sedins who make the decision at the end of the day. Reason being is that both, as part of their identical four-year, $28-million contracts, carry no-movement clauses. Thus, if the Sedins’ desire is to stay in Vancouver, there’s no way either is going anywhere without being approached and agreeing to a move. Such a scenario seems incredibly unlikely given the sentiments the Sedins expressed Monday. 

However, that doesn’t change the fact the Canucks could benefit from the opportunity to move the twins. The Canucks have started to build a deeper prospect pool by adding the likes of Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi, Thatcher Demko, Elias Pettersson, Jonathan Dahlen and Kole Lind over the past four seasons, and the young pieces they already have as part of the roster, such as Bo Horvat, Troy Stecher and Ben Hutton, have helped develop a partial foundation upon which a future can be built. But there needs to be more — more draft choices, more prospects and more chances at finding a path to future success.

Look at the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, all franchises that have had or seem to be on the cusp of success. The similarity is that each organization has had more than 30 draft choices over the past four years. The same goes for another seven organizations, even including the Chicago Blackhawks, who, despite their success, have made 34 selections in the past four drafts. The Canucks, meanwhile, have made only 28. And with fewer picks comes fewer chances to hit, and that can mean fewer prospects who make it through to the NHL as impact, or even simply everyday, contributors. Yes, Vancouver has used their selections to build a prospect stock that was considered the 16th-best by a panel of scouts in THN’s Future Watch 2017, but it’s worth wondering where the Canucks would rank — and what their future would look like — with a few additional high-round picks.

None of this is to say the Canucks are bereft of any benefit should the Sedins stick around for what’s left of their respective careers, because that simply isn’t the case. As the Sedins noted in The Players’ Tribune piece, they can guide the next generation by staying in Vancouver. They want to help build a future for the Canucks and there’s plenty for the young players to glean from the way the Sedins carry themselves on and off the ice. Again, these are Hall of Fame-caliber players, two dazzling offensive talents who think the game in a special way. Just by watching the Sedins train, practice and play, the Horvats and Boesers are sure to pick up a trick or two that can lead to success down the road.

Still, it will be difficult not to consider how much closer the Canucks would be to competing with an extra high-round pick or two next summer or what impact acquiring a quality prospect would have had on the franchise in the not-too-distant future. Those questions don’t have answers and, with the Sedins’ decision to remain in Vancouver, likely never will.

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