Now that the 2017-18 season is near its end and the team's late-season acquisitions have all made their case to be considerations for next season's roster, it may be reasonable now to evaluate where everyone might fit on the team in 2018-19. With players such as Brendan Leipsic and Tyler Motte signed next season -- and having shown their worth through a handful of games late this year -- we have less room than we might have previously anticipated. Additionally, rookies next year may include Adam Gaudette, Elias Pettersson, and even Jonathan Dahlen. With so many new players joining the team, as well as previously-signed veterans returning from injury, the roster will be clogged with competition.
The Sedin twins have apparently been given the option to make the final call as to whether or not they wish to return. If the team had no desire for them to return, I doubt that they would task them with the difficult and emotional process of deciding their own fate next season. The Sedins seem to have the final word as to what they would like to do.
Looking at the team's roster situation for next season, however, it is clear that there is no room for these two players to return unless other players are expected to be moved off of the roster. Even if we only were to expect one of our pending RFAs to return -- Jake Virtanen --, there would not be two spots available for the Sedins. If we are to sign additional RFAs, this provides even less room to accommodate the Sedins.
To bring the Sedins back would not only force the team to make moves to create space for their final stretch with the team, but also perhaps disrupt the current opportunities that young players would have to take their place on the team.
Furthermore, if this team drafts second or third overall and selects a forward -- namely, Svechnikov or Zadina --, that forward might need to be sent back to the CHL next season. I did not factor that into the forward group below, but that would be an additional factor if the scenario comes to fruition. If the team selects one of those two and keeps them in the NHL, I would expect one of the other young players, probably Dahlen, to be moved down to the AHL.
The two spots being vacated by the Sedins would go to Gaudette and Pettersson. Eriksson will return next season. One would reasonably anticipate Baertschi's return. Those two spots vacated by the Sedins would be taken by Gaudette and Pettersson; if Baertschi does not return, there may be an additional space for Dahlen.
In other words:
Boeser-Horvat-LeipsicThe purpose of having the Sedins on the roster next season would be to help mentor the young players, but the team might ironically have to leave its young players off of the roster to make room for them. The veterans are unmovable, plus there are RFAs to either re-sign or release; the most flexible place on the depth chart is among the young players (i.e., Dahlen, Pettersson, Gaudette).
I think that Leipsic could be a reasonable piece to explore long-term due to his playmaking talent, and Motte or Archibald provide at least one necessary player on a roster that lacks grit. Motte is 22 years old; he played 18:03 last night in a checking role against Connor McDavid and was fairly successful when on the ice with him. Overall, Motte's defensive game and mobility make him a noteworthy candidate for that gritty shutdown role that nobody else on the roster plays. We learned in the interval between Derek Dorsett's retirement and the signing of Darren Archibald that the team needs at least one forward of that kind. There is potential for him to develop into the type of checker that a successful team needs.
To sacrifice the development of two prospects for one year of the Sedins seems like a short-sighted move. To keep them on the team next year is an opportunity for them both to improve at the NHL level, and for the team to know what we have in those two players.
Goldobin's elevated play late this season makes him a likely opening lineup player next season, and this appears to be his final opportunity to remain with the Canucks. Virtanen, meanwhile, is at the point where his development should be at the NHL level.
The team would be delaying its youth transition, especially if some of those aforementioned young players are ready to play in the NHL and must instead wait due to the Sedins' return. Would it really make sense to bring the Sedins back next season?
Even if the only RFAs we retain are Baertschi and Virtanen, there will hardly be enough room for Dahlen and Pettersson. Baertschi would probably make Gaudette more likely to be sent down, and the Sedins would take Dahlen and Petterson's spots.
Boeser-Horvat-LeipsicThe 2018-19 forward group would more than likely be very similar to the 2017-18 group if additional spots are not made. Is this what you would look forward to next season?
Baertschi-Gagner-Eriksson(NTC) (or Eriksson-Gaudette-Gagner)