Vancouver Canucks: 3 defencemen the Canucks need to sign

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1: Jake Gardiner, a replacement for Edler?

If Alex Edler does not re-sign with the Vancouver Canucks and instead departs for free agency, then Jake Gardiner would be a good candidate to take the majority of Edler’s minutes. A lefty, Gardiner could match Edler’s production levels and provide a steady pair of hands in the Canucks’ top four while also staying healthier than Edler has managed over recent seasons.

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Now aged 28, Gardiner will be hitting free agency on July 1st thanks to a combination of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ cap constraints, and the raw deal he’s received from Toronto Maple Leafs fans and media over the years.

Last year’s first-round playoff exit was apparently entirely his fault, while this year’s is still down to (mainly) him and Nazem Kadri. There is no chance Gardiner will want to hang around and be lambasted by people who don’t appreciate what he can bring to a team.

What does he bring to a team, I hear you ask? Firstly, he brings scoring. Gardiner went 3-27-30 in 62 games for the Maple Leafs this season, with a steady plus-19 rating and a Corsi For percentage of 52.2.

His previous two seasons saw him post 52 and 43 points respectively, again both with positive Corsi and plus/minus. He’s a very good top four defenceman, who figures to be on the receiving end of a long-term deal somewhere around the $5.5 to $6 million mark.

Would that kind of deal appeal to Canucks fans? He’s missed just 26 games in the last five seasons, the same number Edler missed this season alone, and has played 75 or more games in six of his eight NHL seasons. Edler has only managed 75 or more games in four of his 13 seasons with the Canucks.

If Edler leaves, Gardiner is the perfect replacement — and a healthy one at that.