Canucks Player Autopsy: Alexander Edler

Jonathan Daniel

A talented mystery, wrapped up in a hard hitting enigma in size - 39 stats. The guy Torts spoke of as " I'm intrigued by the Edler...", he is as intriguing to all of us John, and we've been around him longer !

Who's this guy?

Alexander Edler

Position: D

Shoots: Left

Height: 6'3''

Weight: 215 lbs

Born: April 21st, 1986 ( is 28 old these days ? ) in Osterlund, Sweden ( they call it the "Winter City" in Scandinavia ). Selected 91st ( 3rd Rd ) in the 2004 draft, the year the Canucks took Schneider 26th, some nobody ( Andrew Sarauer ) in the 4th, before Mike Brown in the 5th, and the immortal Jannik Hansen 287th overall.  Edler probably is the best current NHLer out of that class. Something to ponder...

What'd he do?

Well, that is the question with the enigma that is Edler.  What indeed did he do.  And, more importantly, is the Alexander we saw under the most recent last coach the real Alexander, or is it the AV version, with all the attendant breathtaking rushes, confident shots, bone crushing hits, and still only the occasional, ( and livable with all the other great ) gaffe ?  It seemed that all the bad aspects of his game that occasionally popped up while  he was averaging a little over 10 goals a season, and 41 points in his first five seasons ( before almost identical production this past 63 games of woe, compared to the all West 45 games in the lockout season, with 8 goals and 14 assists then, and 7 goals and 15 assists in the Year of Living Dangerously. )...it seems that ALL of those occasional things were magnified, while Torts being intrigued just served to put his better talents in a system box that seemed to confuse the big Swede. Poor bastard.

Not all of that gaudy -39 was his fault, but he sure was in between on plays a lot last year.  That speaks to confidence.

So was he any good?

Well, that again is the thing with our man Eddie.  ( I have to say, at first I was like, "damn, those guys got the Twins, and I got the Swede everyone hates ? " when I saw our schedule.  But then I realized that, with this player, you can make the stats dance and sing to kill or praise.  It is all in the viewpoint.  Is he the man that earned a deal that pays him 5 million a year ( and was praised as a fantastic contract at the time ), or is he the train wreck that his season seemed to herald.

Go here, to his ExtraSkater.com page. A few things pop out.  His usage, in TOI, Quality of Competition, and how his teammates did around him.  When you look at the tables as you scroll down that page, AV used Edler the same kind of ways that Torts did.  So, does that mean that Torts broke him, and only AV was the "EddyWhisperer"?  Of course not. Alexander Edler was not was good as he has been in the past, in the worst of his six seasons in the NHL.  But he is a 6'3", 215 pound missile with one of the hardest shots in the NHL. When he is on, he is on in a game changing fashion.

That is what we have to remember when folks talk about Edler as #1 on the "ask him to waive" list.  "Was he any good" is almost the wrong question. "Is he any good still" ? is the closer one.  I think he is. At the very least, he has enough of that image still lingering around his game to overcome this most recent horror show campaign.  How bad was it ? For some perspective ( and even though it is flawed, + / - can still give the broad strokes... ), Edler was a +19 in his career before this past season made him a career -11.  My money is on this past season being an outlier.  It just boggles the mind otherwise !

Some more perspective. Even in this, the nadir of his career, Alexander Edler had 7 goals ( tied with Garrison for the team lead ) and 22 points, which tied him with Hamhuis for 3rd amongst defenseman scoring ( behind Garrison's 33 points, and Bieksa's 4 goals and 24 points ). Those players had 81, 79 and 76 games played this year.  Edler played 63 games due to injury.

Now, none of this is to excuse the poor play this year.  But, I have often said, with this player more than any other on the team, perhaps.  Just play. Because it is a game.  John Tortorella came in with this whole "I will fix him" when he was pretty good, and seemed to do all he could to do the opposite. The critiques came as much as the praise and the defending in the media.  We all know coach speak, and I get that the public face and the private one are different.  But, in a lifetime of watching the game, you learn a few things.  What I have learned is, there are some players that can work at their craft and improve by dint of hard work over talent.

But most of the really great players seem to go on instinct.  The sport is too fast to be thinking your way through a shift, and, whether it was because of the conflicting messages, the system, or just a shitty confluence of everything, all at once, a player who should just react to a forward's move up the boards or into the corner is instead stopping to think about the system, ( and where the shot is coming from. Edler embraced the signature aspect of Tort's game, the blocked shot, and tied with Chris Tanev for the team lead, with 136 blocks...good for 35/36 in the NHL in that stat amongst defensemen ) ... thinking instead where he should be so the coach doesn't embarrass him on the bench with his pointy finger and the spittle and the fiery eyes and all that act entails...

Who wants that, right ?

What'd we like?

Well, definitely not this...it seemed to be a harbinger of the season to come, now that I think about it.

And certainly not this, though, even though folks that didn't understand it when Torts got into some trouble with the league for saying "we teach that hit". He meant that there were mitigating circumstances, and WTF is Hertl's head doing there at that instant anyhow, but this hit did seem to take some steam out of an early season that looked pretty OK for the big Swede.

Ahhh. yes, happier times...

This one too, it seemed like, with that kind of luck !

Neat, so we hate something too, right ?

Of course we do.  Alexander Edler has to take responsibility for his bad season as well. Making note of the reasons why, the environment and expectations the coach put upon the game of the man does not excuse the results.  He simply did not give the team the results they have come to expect from him.  While I can understand doing what is asked of you, and not getting it, and your performance suffering, in the end, it is HIS performance, in a perform or die game.

So what now?

Well, it depends.  Some would have him as the first man out the door to "rebuild" the team.   Others note that there is no way he would waive anyhow, and why would you trade him when his value is so low after such a lousy season.  The thing is, any GM worth his salt is going to look at more than just last year, and, like I mentioned, when you look at that ExtraSkater link, a lot of the underlying things in his game did not really change a huge amount, just the results.

I am willing to lean the "Torts screwed him up" way, and put him in the Top 4, with a new coach, and an attitude that will be the top underlying motivation for this team, regardless of leaders chosen.  "We are better than this". Like Bieksa said at the end of the season, maybe folks don't believe that anymore, but we do, and we will have to prove it in the coming season".  Now, that is paraphrased a bit, but that is what he said, what the Sedins said, and what most of the guys that want to be here have said.

How it pertains to Edler and his attitude is not something I can say definitively. Only he can say that.  But I would be surprised if he goes flying down the rabbit hole two seasons in a row.  Don't expect quiet for not driven.  I can see Edler doing very, very well with a coach like, say ( my choice at the moment, subject to rosterbatory change, of course ) Barry Trotz.

Onward and upward Alexander !

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