About to enter his 15th season in the NHL, veteran defender Alexander Edler still carries a lot of value on the blueline for the Vancouver Canucks.
Having played every single one of his 955 NHL games in a Canucks uniform, Edler has long been known as the backbone of Vancouver’s blueline for more than a decade. He’s been around through the many ups and downs over the years, including the heart-wrenching Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals loss in 2011.
Drafted from the Kelowna Rockets in the third round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Edler quietly became the important player he is today. Playing on a team that has never really had a true No. 1 defender (until recently), Edler played himself into that very position by being dependable, playing good defence, and finding a way to contribute offensively on the power play.
Each coach that passed through Vancouver quickly learned to lean on Edler as the team’s best defender and with good reason. He’s enjoyed several seasons as the Canucks’ highest point-producing blueliner, holds the franchise record for most points by a defenceman and he even appeared in the 2012 NHL All-Star game.
Now, Edler is 34-years-old, past his prime, but is still a very important piece on the back end. Sure, Quinn Hughes has taken the torch and will have no problem being the Canucks go-to guy, but with the departure of Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher, Edler means just as much to this team now as he ever has. He brings something to the table that no other blueliner on Vancouver can. He’s their best penalty killer and he’s still a solid two-way defender.
Entering what could possibly be his last season or two in the NHL, the Canucks are asking Edler to perform at a rate that may not be possible for a defender in his mid-thirties. But up to this point, Edler has kept a good pace.
In a perfect world, Vancouver would be in a position that allows Edler to slide down to a third-pairing role. However, Olli Juolevi is yet to prove he can handle big NHL minutes and Edler will need to be the man who eats up a lot of minutes on the first unity penalty kill. I wouldnt be surprised to see him hovering in the 24-minute mark on a nightly basis yet again.
Edler still has gas left in the tank and it’ll be very interesting to see what he can accomplish for the Vancouver Canucks next season. He’s given his heart and soul to the city of Vancouver and it’s very clear just how much he still means to this incredible franchise. Can Edler turn in another solid season as a member of the Canucks?