Edler’s had an off year. There’s no hiding it, in the words of one Todd Bertuzzi – “It is what it is”. For the number of people that have thrown him under the bus, I don’t think a lot of people realize just why he’s having the slump this year. Edler can thank all that he was last year, and all that he’s going to be in the future to one player, Mattias Ohlund.
Ohlund’s departure from the team left a huge hole on the blue line that was bigger than just one player as his influence on Edler is clear this season. Edler’s had to make his way through this season on his own. It’s been an adventure for him, and as a fan you can see him go through the ups and downs as he’s developing as a blue liner. Edler went from having someone to look up to, to being thrust into number three defenseman spot where all of a sudden he’s been expected to use what he learned last year and become the Mattias Ohlund to another “Edler” on the team. You still with me?
Edler’s growing pains won’t be here next season. Once he makes it through this year he’s going to be much better off for it, and one thing that’s certainly helped is the injury situation on the blue line (see there is a silver lining to everything!). The fact that Edler hasn’t been benched (a la Bieksa, after poor play) but in fact seen increased minutes (because of the injuries to Bieksa and Mitchell) has forced him to work through the current situation.
Edler misses Ohlund. It’s plain and simple. What Ohlund did for him is what Tampa Bay hopes Ohlund will do for Victor Hedman. There’s a reason we locked up Edler long term. He’s having a down year, but when Bieksa returns the reduction in playing time and return of a top four blue liner is going to take the pressure of him. That extra insurance of defensive experience on the blue line (did I really just refer to Bieksa as having defensive experience?!) should allow him to settle in and play his game. The stretch drive is his tune up, the playoffs his stomping ground.