The time has come for the Vancouver Canucks to address the Alexander Edler situation.
The team is not short on options for the defenceman, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The 32-year-old is at the end of a six-year deal signed in January of 2013 and has expressed a desire to remain in Vancouver.
But here’s the thing: the Canucks are in a rebuilding process, depending on how you look at it, and could fetch a fair stack of goodies for their blueliner.
The first and most preferable option as far as cutting down on drama goes is for the Canucks to re-sign Edler, offer him a fair chunk of change and enough term to finish things out in Vancouver.
This is, after all, the only franchise he’s ever known and that kind of loyalty is rare for the league. It may not be rare for Swedes who come to Vancouver, however, and that’s a good thing if you like the look of Elias Pettersson in a Canucks sweater.
Edler does have a no-movement clause and that makes things interesting when it comes to a trade, which in turn means that offering him a deal to remain is the most diplomatic solution. And really, is that such a bad thing? The Canuck will be loaded with left side defencemen and Edler can give the likes of Quinn Hughes a mentor in the coming years.
Another option for Edler is the trade.
This requires the blueliner to waive his no-move clause, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the question. Vancouver could, for instance, bounce Edler out for a rental to a contender with intentions on re-acquiring him in the summer for a closing deal. That could grant them a practical asset as a return, albeit not a major one.
Or they could trade Edler outright, with intentions on getting a bigger return. There are teams in the running for the defenceman’s services, like the Calgary Flames or Pittsburgh Penguins or Colorado Avalanche. Even the Winnipeg Jets could use a blueliner down the left side.
That opens the door on a return that’s even higher than a team expecting a rental, which could amount to something like a second round pick and a prospect or two.
But the thing that changes this conversation, or at least contextualizes it, is the fact that Edler has been playing some of the best hockey of his career right now. He has taken the team’s leadership in the post-Sedin era and has shown himself a loyal and faithful soldier. He leads Vancouver’s defencemen in points, despite missing 15 games, and he’s fourth in the league in blocked shots as of press time.
If all goes well, Edler could even ice his best offensive season since 2011-2012.
So yes, there are options. But Edler’s stellar play and even more stellar loyalty to the city adds a few wrinkles to this situation. And that could put the Canucks in a tough spot as the trade deadline approaches.
“It might not be my decision, but we’ll see how it goes,” Edler said. “I’ve always re-signed before my last year, so it’s a bit different. Whatever happens, I’ll deal with it. I really don’t speculate too much with the different options that could happen.”