It appears that the Vancouver Canucks and Alexander Edler are headed for a split this offseason. Here is what it means for both sides going forward.
According to Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet 650, it’s looking unlikely that the two sides will reach a deal. And with that, the 33-year-old will be looking for a new home, and the Canucks will be without their No. 1 blueliner.
This is obviously disappointing news for the Canucks and fans, and not just from an emotional standpoint. The team never seemed serious on trading Edler at the blue line, probably because they didn’t think negotiations on a new contract would be so difficult.
But the Canucks also had to be careful with Edler here. He’s 33 years of age, oft-injured and only has so many productive years left. It’s also likely that general manager Jim Benning didn’t want to have to use a protection slot on Edler for the 2021 Seattle expansion draft. So unless Edler was willing to do two years and/or sign the deal without a no-movement clause, there was little hope for a deal getting done.
What this means
Overall, this Edler situation was poorly handled between the two sides. Benning said after the trade deadline that the veteran blueliner wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause, despite receiving offers to join a playoff contending team.
Vancouver should have tried to work on an extension much earlier. That way, if they had known that negoations weren’t going anywhere, they could have really pushed him to accept a trade at the deadline. Now, Benning stands to lose the best blueliner in franchise history for nothing. This is a repeat of the Radim Vrbata-Dan Hamhuis 2016 debacle.
The Canucks have been linked to pending UFAs Jake Gardiner and Tyler Myers, and with Edler likely on his way out, it’s easy to envision Benning getting ultra aggressive in trying to land one or both. Top blueliner Erik Karlsson is off the market now, after signing an eight-year extension with the San Jose Sharks, so there aren’t many top-four blueliners available in free agency for Benning to pursue.
Both Myers and Gardiner come with plenty of offensive upside, and the latter is probably better in that area than Edler. However, neither Myers nor Gardiner are sound defensively, so Benning will have to take that into account if he pursues one or both in free agency.
Like it or not, the Canucks may have no choice but to overpay at least one of Myers or Gardiner. There’s no other easy way to fill a void in the top-four, and Benning has to fix a blue line that’s been among the NHL’s worst for the last few years.
For Edler, he promises to be one of the most-sought after free agents in a weak class for blueliners. He should be able to receive a deal for at least three years worth well $5 million-plus a season.
Canuck fans shouldn’t be mad at Edler for how this whole saga played out. He’s the greatest blueliner the team ever had, and without him, this team wouldn’t have come within one game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. He’s been more than loyal to the franchise for over a decade, and he’s earned the right to receive a fair payday in what could be his final NHL contract.