The collective Canucks fan base can breathe a sigh of relief, Alex Edler doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis abruptly announced (over Twitter!) that the Canucks have locked up the defenseman to a six-year contract extension, worth $30-million. That means the silky blueliner will be making $5-million per season.
It also means that he becomes Vancouver’s highest-paid defenceman, but perhaps that was to be expected. With all due respect to his teammates Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, and Jason Garrison (we’ve omitted Keith Ballard’s name for obvious purposes), Edler still has immense upside compared to them.
Even though the Swede put up a career-high 11 goals and 49 points last season — the healthiest season of his career, we should mention — some believe he could’ve put up even more. There’s one, two, or three 50+ point seasons in Edler yet, and the Canucks are banking on him rising to that level within the next six seasons.
You’d be nuts to not believe the Canucks regard Edler highly. Here’s a quote from assistant coach Rick Bowness back in 2010, before Edler had even cracked the 40-point barrier:
Nick Lidstrom was 31 [when he won his first Norris Trophy]. That’s seven years from now for Alex. You figure where Alex is and where he’s going to be seven years from now. That’s why you have to look at the big picture.
Pretty lofty expectations to set for Edler, sure; hard to compare one player to his arguably the second greatest defenseman of all-time. But that’s just how much the Canucks value their now highest-paid defenceman.
But as much as you’d like to praise Edler’s newest contract and his high potential, the contract doesn’t come out with at least some trepidation. He missed 31 games in 2011 after back surgery and last summer had back surgery again to fix a bulging disc. Edler says now that he feels as healthy as he’s felt in a very long time, but also that he might never feel 100 percent ever again.
That has to raise at least some concern.
Assuming though, that the Canucks medical and training staff can keep Edler happy and healthy, and the coaching staff don’t over-exert him over the course of long regular seasons, the back issue should be a non-concern.
And while six years — as with any long-term contract — can create some cap-related concerns, the Canucks can at least take solace that there are several defencemen across the league that make even more money than he will. Take for example, the following list of less-than-Edler blueliners:
- Jay Bouwmeester, 29 years old, five years @ $6.68-million per season
- Tyler Myers, 22 years old, seven years @ $5.5-million per season
- Matt Carle, 28 years old, six years @ $5.5-million per season
- Dennis Wideman, 29 years old, 5 years @ $5.25-million per season
There could be far worse options than Alex Edler at $5-million for the next six years.
And taking a look at the potential free agent defencemen crop for next summer:
- Kimmo Timonen
- Lubomir Visnovsky
- Sergei Gonchar
- Ron Hainsey
- Mark Streit
It’s easy to suggest Edler would’ve been the best defencemen available of the bunch. There very likely would’ve been a team that wouldn’t flinch at throwing him a contract with a longer term and for even more money.
The Canucks did well to lock up Edler. And for the next six seasons, you can look forward to some more of this: