The puck drops on the Vancouver Canucks season in less than 48 hours and, unlike the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team has yet to re-sign its biggest stars.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin look like they may start the final year of their contracts without an extension. Team management and the players had aimed to get it done during training camp, but, as of Tuesday afternoon, it did not sound as if any agreement was near.
The length of the new contracts is the primary question, with the twins looking for a term of at least four years. That would take them through the 2017-18 NHL season, when they would be 37, an age at which most players' abilities have, in general, significantly faded.
The Swedish twins turned 33 last week, and have demonstrated tremendous durability over the past decade, with Henrik on a streak of 629 consecutive regular-season games played, dating to March of 2004 (the seventh-longest run in league history). Over that same stretch, Daniel has missed only 31 games, which averages to about four a year.
The two are known for their fitness and, in an interview on Tuesday, Henrik said the brothers feel their game will remain strong through their later 30s.
"I know the older you get you're going to lose a little bit of foot speed, but that's never been really our strength. We should be fine playing when we're that age," he said, reiterating the brothers' main desire in regards to the new contracts: "We want this to be our last deal."
For the team, the potential term might be somewhat daunting, but the Canucks did get sweetheart contracts the last time round, when the Sedins played through the final year and talks went to the brink of free agency. General manager Mike Gillis managed to get them to agree to a five-year deal for $6.1-million (U.S.) per season – a bargain at the time and a massive bargain in retrospect.
In terms of cash, a raise could be in the offing, given the league salary cap is expected to climb and the likes of unproven and oft-injured young players such as Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are scoring $6-million-per-season deals.
Gillis, in an interview, was mum on the status of talks with the Sedins, but said sooner-than-later is not crucial on a deal.
"It might be more important with other people," the GM said. "With these guys, I have complete confidence that they are mature and respectful and keep everything in perspective and I don't have a concern about it being a distraction for them or our team if it's not done by Thursday [when the Canucks play the Sharks in San Jose]."
J.P. Barry of CAA Sports, the Sedins' agent, did not return calls for comment Tuesday.