It’s a phrase used in fantasy hockey quite often, especially in points-only pools: The Sedin twins are elite players.
Don’t take my word for it. You can see it in this thread. And this one. And Dobber’s top 300 rankings for points-only has Henrik at ninth overall and Daniel at 14.
However, this statement is inherently false.
The Sedins are good players who have been pretty consistent over much of their career, but they are far from elite.
If you’re one of those general managers hoping they can still get a 90-point season out of them, you’re in for quite a shock. There are several reasons that point to a non-elite season from the Sedins.
Zone faceoff stats
Everyone knows about this one. The Sedins start most of their faceoffs in the offensive zone, more so than pretty much anyone else in the league.
This past season, Daniel Sedin started in the offensive zone 66 per cent of the time (third in the league among players with 30 or more games), and Henrik 63.7 per cent (ninth in the league).
In 2011-12, Daniel started in the offensive zone 79.6 per cent, and Henrk at 78.6 per cent (first and second in the league, minimum 60 games).
In 2010-11, Daniel started in the offensive zone 74.5 per cent of the time (first) and Henrk 71.4 per cent (second, again, minimum 60 starts).
And so on.
This leads to more opportunities for points, obviously.
But with a new head coach on the way, will the Sedins continue to see such offensive zone starts numbers?
Look at it this way. This past season, Henrik was on pace for 77 points, which would have been his lowest amount in six years. Daniel was on pace for 69 points, which would have been his lowest number since before the 2004-05 lockout (not including his injury season of 2011-12).
If those offensive zone starts decline this season under John Tortorella, that will negatively impact the Sedins’ point totals.
Torts has already announced he plans on using the Sedins on the penalty kill. This is something the twins have wanted for quite some time, but former coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t allow.
Last year, Henrik averaged nine seconds a game of shorthanded ice time and Daniel four seconds. The year before that, Henrik was at five seconds a game of shorthanded ice time, and Daniel four seconds.
The key to all of this is their time on ice per game. They have never averaged 20 minutes of ice time per game. They mostly hover around the 19 minute mark.
So if they start being used on the penalty kill, one of two things is going to happen:
1) They stay the same in regards to overall ice time, and ice time used for the penalty kill will be taken from even strength ice time. This will reduce the amount of offensive chances they can get per game, hence reducing their points.
2) Their ice time will increase each game by a minute or two. Penalty killing takes a lot of energy. Can the Sedins handle an extra 1:30 of hard ice time per game? Will they start to get tired as the season wears on? Fatigue will play a big factor in this scenario, and they’ll start to slow down as we get closer to April.
Numbers after age of 32
One of my favourite statistic. You know how many players had 100 point seasons at the age of 32 or over? Only 10 (Wayne Gretzky, Phil Esposito, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, John Bucyk, Jean Ratelle, Joe Sakic and Daniel Alfredsson). Alfredsson and Sakic are the only two players to do it since the 04-05 lockout.
The Sedins are now 32 years old, and will turn 33 on Sept. 26. What are the odds they are added to this list?
Not great. And therein lies the problem. An elite NHL player should have a shot at 100 points. When one thinks of current elite players in the NHL, they think Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and so on.
Every single one of these guys is considered elite, and a threat to get 100 points. A 70-point player is not elite.
Those two great seasons were more of an outlier than the norm
If you look at the numbers of Henrik (here) and Daniel (here), you will see they had two great seasons. But except for that, they’ve been at or below point-per-game numbers.
What’s more likely: These guys are elite players, or they are consistent just-below point-per-game players who had two great seasons?
It’s the latter. And if that’s the case, that means while it is possible for them to have a great season, odds are it won’t happen.
If you look at the numbers, you'll see their points-per-game decrease in each of the last four years. And there's nothing to suggest a big turnaround is coming.
And that’s why they shouldn’t be considered elite. There are just too many factors working against them.
Taking all these reasons into account, they will probably finish the upcoming season with around 65-70 points, with maybe Henrik hitting around 72 points.
So if you know of someone in your league who still views them as elite, it’s time to trade them now, before everyone else catches on.