September 5, 2017, 1:37 PM ET [147 Comments]
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If you were away from your radio and Twitter feed on Monday, enjoying the last day of the long weekend, you missed out on a bunch of updates on the Vancouver Canucks.
As expected, the launch of the Canucks' new flagship station Sportsnet 650 came with plenty of interviews and clarifications on some of the burning questions that surround the team.
Let's start here—both Daniel Sedin and Jim Benning reiterated that the twins aren't going anywhere.
There's also this:
To me, this can only mean that the Canucks and the twins are working on a contract extension. Their last deals were finalized relatively early in the season, on November 1, 2013. So it's a familiar play, even though that contract was negotiated with the old management team of Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman.
What else could it be? They're not getting traded, and I highly doubt that they're going to announce a final-season farewell tour around the NHL. Beyond that, the possibilities get really outlandish. Are they opting out of their contracts so they can get one last chance to play for Sweden at the Olympics?
I have tremendous respect for what the Sedins have brought to Vancouver and the magic they created in their primes. What were the odds that two identical twins could win back-to-back scoring titles? That was madness.
But in addition to what appears to be their age-related decline, I don't feel like the twins' playing style is very well suited to today's NHL. As long as they can keep the puck, they're all right. But once it's gone—uh oh.
I accept the idea that the twins are here for one more year—and I can understand the thinking that they're worth keeping around beyond that, mostly because the Canucks don't have anybody in the mix yet to take their place. But they're really not depth guys—defending has never been their strong suit.
Daniel's coming into the season with the attitude that the team is on an upswing. I hope he's right, but I'm pretty sure we also heard this same message last year, and the year before.
That being said, the twins are actually in pretty good company as impending UFAs hovering around the 50-point plateau. I just posted a new piece for Bleacher Report focused on the free-agent class of 2018 and was a little surprised by what I learned.
Once you move past John Tavares, you've got Kyle Turris, a 28-year-old undisputed No. 1 centre, who recorded 55 points with Ottawa last year. Paul Statsny, now 31, hasn't cracked 50 points in any of his three years in St. Louis—while earning the same $7 million a season as the twins. On the wing, Evander Kane, now 26, has only one 50-point season in his career. Despite leading Buffalo with 27 goals last season, he topped out at 43 points as well.
Those three guys are all set to cash in bigtime on their next contracts—so, maybe I am being hasty in trying to rush the twins out the door.
As for Bo Horvat—no, there was no bridge deal announcement on Monday. Here's all we have so far:
I'll take it as a positive sign that Bo re-tweeted this Sam Gagner message over the weekend. No reason to think he's seriously considering heading to Europe or anything at this point.
I was honestly surprised by the mixed reactions to the Thomas Vanek signing. To me, it's a clear negative.
Ed Willes echoes my sentiment in his Monday morning musings column this week:
As Willes puts it:
We understand this season can go a number of ways and, by February, Boeser, Virtanen and Goldobin might be regulars in the Canucks’ lineup. But this is also an organization which is trying to keep its fan base engaged and it’s hard to see where the Canucks’ opening-day lineup is going to do that.
Put it this way. A 20-goal season from the newly signed Vanek isn’t going to excite anyone. A 20-goal season from Boeser will.
Jim Benning is arguing that even with Vanek in the fold, there's still room for the kids to crack the lineup.
Perhaps a player like Boeser can bump someone like Reid Boucher or Brendan Gaunce but at this point, it'll be virtually impossible for anyone to surprise like Troy Stecher did during camp last year—and Stecher still didn't make the opening-night lineup! He was recalled for the first time on October 24, after Chris Tanev was injured, then returned to the Comets very briefly in early November before coming back to the Canucks for good on November 4.
As Willes says, the Canucks roster will be fluid over the course of the season. With the gentler schedule this year, I don't expect injuries will be as much of a factor, so I'll be surprised if Vancouver matches the 36 different skaters who suited up last season. There should still be some movement, but the odds are stacked against the kids coming out of camp.
Still no official announcement of the Canucks' roster for Young Stars, which kicks off in just three days. Here's a back-of-the-envelope list, at least, which provides a good jumping-off point for who we could expect to see in Penticton this weekend.