It’s been a long time since the Sedin Twins have established chemistry with the right linemate. So who should the Vancouver Canucks put beside the Sedins?
Vancouver Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin broke out during the 2005-06 season, when veteran Anson Carter formed tremendous chemistry with the twins. Carter had 33 goals and 55 points that season, and the Sedins finally put themselves on the NHL map.
But Carter would leave following a contract dispute, and the Sedins saw their linemates change over the next few years. They finally found the “third Sedin” in Alexandre Burrows, who emerged as a consistent 20-goal scorer.
Then Burrows battled age, injury and inconsistency. The last time Burrows was a true first-liner was back in the 2012-13 season. Daniel and Henrik haven’t had a quality linemate skate along side them since.
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General manager Jim Benning thought Loui Eriksson could be the guy, signing the slick Swede to a six-year contract worth $36 million.
But Eriksson didn’t find his groove in Vancouver, and he’s on the list of players who couldn’t find the proper chemistry with Daniel and Henrik.
New head coach Travis Green has a tough task of finding the right guy who can skate with them.
His predecessor, Willie Desjardins, tried countless line combinations to gel with the Sedins. He wasn’t able to find it.
There are a handful of options, but only a few make sense. So who should Green place beside the Sedins? Let’s take a look at the three ideal choices.
The Canucks signed Sam Gagner to a three-year deal, and they can use him all over the lineup. A natural centre, Gagner turned out to be an ideal right winger for the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, scoring 18 goals and 50 points.
Gagner had a 54.8 Corsi for percentage, suggesting his slick puck possession skills make him an ideal fit for the Sedins and their cycling game.
One reason for the Sedins’ decline in production? They’re starting to get slower. Gagner is fast, crafty and skilled with the puck. His right-hand shot would also add more balance to a Canucks team that’s filled with primarily left-handed shooters.
Gagner is probably the best candidate for the Sedins. His style of play and quick speed could really help the twins bounce back from disappointing 2016-17 seasons. We’ll see if Green agrees on this one.
The Canucks tried using Brandon Sutter as the Sedins’ linemate during the 2015-16 season. Unfortunately, injuries held Sutter to just 20 games, so we didn’t get to see him develop his game much with the Sedins.
Sutter bounced back well in 2016-17, scoring 17 goals and 34 points as a predominant second/third-liner. With a solid two-way game and good size (6-foot-3, 191 pounds), Sutter would be a nice complement to the Sedins’ offensive game.
Sutter did show some promise with the Sedins when Desjardins put them together — but it was a small sample size. That being said, it’s worth trying out the Sutter and Sedins project one more time.
It’s more likely that Sutter ends up on a non-Sedin line. But with his game and hard work ethic, Sutter definitely deserves a chance to play with the twins again.
Brock Boeser is by far the best prospect in the Canucks system. He’s a pure goal-scorer with a great finishing touch, and perhaps the rookie would be best off learning from a couple of Canuck legends in the early going.
Though the Sedins are well past their respective primes, they are great leaders and mentors. They could easily show Boeser the way to being a superstar on the west coast.
Like Gagner, Boeser is a right-handed shooter and brings terrific jets and all-around skill to his game. Henrik has always been the set-up man, and Daniel’s been the finisher. What about giving Henrik two slick finishers on one line?
Boeser scored four goals in just nine games last season, showing he’s ready for the NHL. Perhaps the best way to groom him is to have him play with a pair of future Hall of Famers right off the bat.
*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*