Alexander Edler has been the Vancouver Canucks top defenceman for nearly a decade. But given his age and injury history, it’s time for the team to trade him as they transition towards a rebuild.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Swede broke through in the 2008-09 season, scoring 10 goals and 37 points as the Canucks won the Northwest Division. From then on, Edler became the Canucks’ power play quarterback and made them a consistent Stanley Cup contender.
But ever since the team made the wrong call to fire head coach Alain Vigneault and replace him with John Tortorella in 2013, things have gone downhill for the franchise.
Vancouver has missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons. Disgruntled stars like Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo requested and received trades. The Sedin twins are no longer superstars, and the Canucks are stuck in a rebuilding year.
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As everyone knows, rebuilding often means trading away veterans in their 30s, especially if they’re among your very few trade chips.
Edler turns 32 in January, carries two years left on his contract at $5 million a season (per CapFriendly) and has struggled to stay healthy — having missed 71 games in the past four years.
So if the Canucks want to add younger assets during this rebuild, the time for general manager Jim Benning to trade Edler is now.
The Canucks already have a promising young blue line that currently holds Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton and 27-year-old Chris Tanev — who should be a Canuck for the long-term. Throw in prospects Olli Juolevi and Jordan Subban, and it’s hard to see where Edler would fit in Vancouver when his contract runs up in 2019.
Though he’s not quite a No. 1 blueliner anymore, Edler would help a Stanley Cup contender that needs depth on the back end. Teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs could be good suitors.
Back in May, Benning said he wasn’t planning to shop Edler (or Tanev, for that matter), but there isn’t much of a reason to keep Edler around for a while.
Teams are always willing to pay a fancy price for a top-four defenceman. At the very worst, Edler would secure the Canucks a couple of draft picks — perhaps even a B-level prospect.
Clearing Edler’s contract would also give the Canucks plenty of cap space, which will be needed when Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund and others sign extensions. Nothing wrong with having too much cap space.
At the end of the day, trading Edler seems like a no-brainer. He’s injury-prone, expensive and not a bonafide top-pairing blueliner any more. He is also among the Canucks few trade chips and would bring back a solid return. The Canucks would clear cap space and would make room for their plethora of young blueliners.
*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*