Vancouver Canucks Could Have Had New ‘Swedish Twins’

Apr 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander (39) lines up during their game against the Detroit Red Wings at Air Canada Centre. The Red Wings beat the Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander (39) lines up during their game against the Detroit Red Wings at Air Canada Centre. The Red Wings beat the Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks drafted Jake Virtanen sixth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, two spots ahead of William Nylander. The hype around Nylander’s younger brother, Alexander, has started to pick up towards the 2016 Draft — did the Canucks miss out on another pair of of “Swedish twins”?

Now before this Vancouver Canucks daydream gets out of hand, let’s lay down some reality: Henrik and Daniel Sedin are truly unique. They’re two of a kind, being identical, but more importantly, they’ve been able to play a game together since they picked up a pair of sticks. Hockey is a team game, and many families have carried on the tradition, but very few of them have been able to build this kind of life-long chemistry through their professional playing careers.

There are a few exceptions to the rule. The Staal brothers: Eric, Jordan and Marc, all still players in the league (though Eric is looking for a new contract) have spent time playing with each other in the NHL. The Sutter family is probably the most well-represented family in pro sports history, much less hockey, with a total of six brothers playing in the league in the 70s and 80s. The highest-scoring pair of brothers is, of course, “the great one” himself, Wayne Gretsky, and the not so greatest one, his brother Brent, who played a whopping 13 games total for Tampa Bay… Hehe okay, a bit of a cheap shot at ol’ Brent, but it’s the truth.

Then, there are the Neidermeyers and the Giontas and so on and so on.

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In short, there have been many brothers in the league, but I would argue that none of them have played together the way Henrik and Daniel Sedin have.

It goes without saying, there is something special about the way they play. They won’t beat you with speed. Neither of them have a knack for a pinpoint accurate wrister from the circle or the heavy slap-shot from the blue line. What the Sedin’s have is game: mental and physical. And the ace up their sleeve is their unreal chemistry.

They will beat you by knowing where to be. They beat you with a stick lift and a tip pass. They’ll throw a no-look pass off the boards right on the tape, and they’ll be ready to get the pass back to tap into an empty net on the far side, while you’re caught looking at their skates.

If you’re from Vancouver, or you’re just a fan of the team, none of this sounds out of line. They’ve been playing the same way since the day they were drafted, and the teams they’ve played on, NHL or National, have allowed them to simply play the way they always have.

So what’s the deal with the Nylanders?

If you havent been following along, William Nylander has maintained his lofty “blue chip prospect” label. At the end of the NHL regular season, he was playing up with the big club, and many could see his flair for the skilled play and his ability to see the game and be where he needs to be. Sound familiar?

As for William’s younger brother Alexander, he’s not hiding in the shadows one bit.

Read: Alex Nylander 2016 NHL Draft Profile

It’s always a bit harder for a younger brother to live up to expectations (just ask Brent Gretzky). But all signs are pointing to a bright future for Alex. Some are even saying he’s got as good a shot to reach a lofty “blue chip” potential as his brother William, with high level offensive awareness and vision.

You never know what you’re going to get with brothers, but the Sedins are certainly an example of what’s possible… and that has me daydreaming.

Could the Canucks have had a succession plan for the Sedins by drafting the Nylanders: another pair of “swedish twins”?

In 2014, they could have selected William Nylander instead of Jake Virtanen. This year, they could draft William’s brother Alex and have the two play on the same line within the next three years.

So, maybe… but that’s okay.

Virtanen is not a Sedin. He plays a heavy game and skates like the wind. Whether that turns into points and first-line minutes is still to be determined. In all likelihood, the Canucks will draft one of Pierre-Luc Dubois or Mathew Tkachuk, and that’s another familiar last name in the NHL universe. But not a brother this time round: he’s the son of Keith Tkachuk.

Next: Is it Dubois or a Trade Down for Vancouver?

Missing out on another pair of “Swedish Twins” is certainly a storyline, but It’s likely the right move for a team trying to build balance in size and speed in a tough western conference.

After all, who knows how long the Sedins will keep playing their game? For fans in Vancouver, let’s hope it’s a while yet, because it’s not the kind of game you’ll likely ever see again in the NHL for a long time. Or at least until the next pair of Swedish twins comes along.