Canucks Player Autopsy: Alex Edler

Jonathan Daniel

Sharpen your scalpels and snap on a pair of rubber gloves: it's time to dissect the Canucks 2013 season on a player-by-player basis. You might want to wear facial protection, this could get messy.

Who's this guy?

Alexander Edler

Position: D

Shoots: L

Height:6’3"

Weight: 215lbs

Born: Ostersund, Sweden, which is a pain because I don’t know how to get that little sideways colon on top of the O.

History: Got a late start playing hockey by Canadian standards (age six) which is why Don Cherry probably doesn’t like him.

What'd he do?

Edler was one of the key Canucks throughout the season, topping the team in total ice time and ranking as a top-30 defenseman in terms of playing time, points, shots on net and power play time on ice. For the fifth year in a row, Edler came close to that half-point-a-game mark that offensive defensemen like to hit. He also chipped in five power play goals, matching his career high but in just 45 games. It was his first season with a negative plus-minus at -5, even though he spent the bulk of his even strength time playing with the Sedins.


So was he any good?

Yes and no. The big difference in his season was switching from Sami Salo as his primary defense partner to Kevin Bieksa. Edler went from being a small positive possession defenseman playing with excellent teammates against decent competition to a small positive possession defenseman playing with excellent teammates against decent competition. Not much of a change, and his scoring rate was only down slightly. It’s tough to pin the struggles of the power play on him, either, when he was top-20 in power play scoring for defenders. A lot of how you evaluate Edler would come down to your feelings on Bieksa versus Salo.

In general, yes, Edler is a good defenseman. Whether he belongs in a top-pairing given that his possession numbers are pretty poor when separated from the Sedins is up for debate, though it’s difficult to know until such a separation actually happens. For $30M over the next six years, the Canucks better hope he’s a big part of what will surely be a revamped power play strategy, and someone who still has defensive upside to tap into if he’s ever moved from his somewhat sheltered workload.

What'd we like?

Not this, that’s for damn sure. Filthy ******.

This, however, was much more enjoyable.

This person really likes Edler and made a three-minute tribute video to him, so that should suffice for the rest of the video/GIF section. Some big hits and some big clappers.

Cool. So what did we hate?

There’s nothing I hated in his actual play, except for that Staal hit which is just Un-Canadian of him. He’s a fun player and was one of my favourite Canucks to watch work this year. He’s a good power play defenseman and an excellent open-ice skater. Wait, this is the hate section, my bad. Really, no big complaints here except that once again, he got pretty favorable minutes – heavy time with the Sedins, 57% of shifts starting in the offensive zone, and net-negative quality of competition (although relative to his teammates, he got a fairly average set of assignments). This is the fourth straight year you could say basically that same thing, so it’s not really a criticism so much as it is a curiosity about how he’d do at even strength if he weren’t attached to the Sedins so heavily.

So what now?

The biggest change for Edler will come with whatever a new coach brings in with respect to the power play. In the past three seasons, Edler has totalled 15 power play goals and 49 power play points in 178 games, averaging 3.6 minutes with the man advantage. He’s a huge part of what was previously a strength of this club, and among a new bench boss’s top priorities will be fixing the power play. He’s a great point-man with the man advantage, specifically bringing the puck up the ice and into the zone, so it will be interesting to see how a new coach leverages that ability.

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