After some down years for the franchise, the Vancouver Canucks have an impressive collection of prospects that is giving fans hope for a brighter future.
And president of hockey operations Trevor Linden, is just as excited about that future as the fans are.
“Probably the most exciting thing that happened in our market was the game we played in July at our prospects camp,” Linden said on Hockey Central Saturday. “I think our fans are starting to see the formation of the next group of Vancouver Canucks.”
The prospect drawing the biggest attention so far this season is forward Elias Pettersson. Pettersson was the fifth-overall pick in last June’s draft and is dominating the Swedish Hockey League, with 11 goals and 35 points in just 26 games as a 19-year-old.
He added another five goals and seven points at the world juniors, where he won a silver medal with Sweden.
“(Fans are) in tune with what our prospects are doing. Regardless of what time (Pettersson) plays back home in Sweden our fans know it,” Linden said. “It just goes to show you the passion in our market for Vancouver Canucks hockey.”
When asked if Pettersson was going to join the Canucks next season, Linden didn’t rule out the possibility.
“We’re going to have to sit down and see where he’s at but what he’s done in the Swedish Elite League is pretty impressive,” Linden said.
As one Swedish star moves in, two more might be moving out of Vancouver. Daniel and Henrik Sedin are both set to be free agents this summer and whether the 37-year-old twins decide to return or not is still up in the air.
Linden said he’ll meet with the Sedins after the season to figure out what’s next for them and didn’t want to speculate on their decision. While Daniel has joined Henrik in the 1,000-point club this season, it’s mostly been a down season for the twins. Daniel has eight goals and 24 points, while Henrik has two goals and 26 points.
“I think these are guys that said all along, they welcome the day when they’re not our No. 1 offensive option,” Linden said. “I do think finally, we’ve gotten to the point where we have some young guys coming in ready to take over for them.”
Whatever Daniel and Henrik do decide to do this summer, Linden hopes fans can appreciate what’s left of the Sedins’ great careers.
“What’s so special about these guys, we’ve never seen this before. It’s such a unique situation,” Linden said. “These guys have played from the time they were four years old until the end of their professional careers together, which is remarkable.
“It’s unfortunate, I think fans in general have the habit of always looking back on someone’s career instead of enjoying when it’s happening right in front of you,” he added. “So I think our fans are realizing they’ve been pretty fortunate the last 17-18 years.”