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Behind The Bench: Alexander Edler

by on 10/06/2011

Vitals

Born: Ostersund, SWE
Birth date: April 21, 1986
Height: 6’4” (193 cm)
Weight: 215 lbs (98 kg)
Position: Defense
Shoots: Left
NHL Draft: 91st overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2004
NHL Team: Vancouver Canucks
Jersey No.: #23
National Team: Sweden
NHL Contract: 11/12
Cap Hit: $3,250,000

History

Entering his draft year, Edler was unknown to the league and was unranked by Central Scouting the entire season. He was brought to the Canucks attention when head scout, Thomas Gradin, saw him play in Sweden and urged the Canucks to draft him. The Canucks drafted him 91st overall after rumours the Detroit Red Wings were also interested in drafting him. Gradin later facilitated a move for Edler to join MODO’s junior club of the J20 SuperElit. In his only season with MODO, he tallied an impressive 23 points in 33 games and finished second on the team in scoring behind Tommy Enstrom.

At the 2005 CHL Import Draft, the Kelowna Rockets selected Edler 58th overall. After some encouragement from the Canucks, Edler moved to North America. Prior to joining the Kelowna Rockets, Edler attended the Canucks AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose’s training camp. Edler failed to make the Moose’s opening night roster and was assigned to the Rockets. In his lone season with the Rockets, Edler tallied 13 goals and 53 points over 62 regular season games and added another 8 points in 12 playoff games. He ranked fourth in scoring among WHL defensemen and fourth in scoring among rookies.

During the 2006 off-season, the Canucks signed Edler to a three-year entry-level contract. Coming into the Canucks training camp in 2006, Edler was expected to make the team as a seventh defenseman but a hip injury forced the Canucks to assign him to the Manitoba Moose. Edler was quickly recalled after Sami Salo went down with an injury. Edler finish his first pro season with 26 points in 47 AHL games and 3 points in 22 NHL games. He was named Manitoba’s Rookie of the Year for his efforts in the AHL.

Edler made the Canucks roster right out of training camp for the 2007-08 season and played in 75 of them. In those 75 games, Edler tallied 8 goals and 20 points. His 8 goals ranked him second among rookie defenseman scoring while his 20 points ranked him fifth overall. Edler was chosen to represent the Western Conference in the 2008 NHL YoungStars Game. Edler continued to improve during the 2008-09 season, appearing in 80 games, scoring 10 goals and 37 points from the back end. Edler struggled at times during the 2009-10 season without partner Mattias Ohlund, who signed in Tampa Bay during the off-season, but still put together a career high season. He appeared in 76 games, recorded 5 goals, a career-high 37 assists, and finished with 42 points.

There were high expectations for Edler coming into the 2010-11 season. Being on a team favoured to win the Stanley Cup, Edler was expected to emerge as a top defender but back surgery half way through the season delayed his emergence. Prior to his injury, he still managed to tally 33 points in 51 games which averages out to 0.647 points per game. Edler returned in time for game 1 of the Canucks playoff run against the Chicago Blackhawks. In his return, he was quite the dominant force, hitting everything that moved in the defensive zone. As the Canucks went deeper into the playoffs, Edler’s play began to taper off and he only tallied 11 points after 25 playoff games. Edler’s diminishing play should be attributed in part to a quick return from mid-season back surgery and the broken fingers suffered during the playoffs.

Talent Analysis

Pros

  • Big body
  • Calm and poised
  • Fluid movements
  • Good skater and skating ability
  • Plays well in one-on-one situations
  • Potential to be a power play quarterback
  • Recently developed a physical game
  • Solid first pass out of zone
  • Reliable defensively
  • Good offensive abilities
  • Hard slapshot from the point

Cons

  • Inconsistent
  • Doesn’t get the puck on net enough
  • Needs to up his physical play

Future

Edler the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of NHL defenders. In one game he can be a Norris Trophy calibre defender, and the next game he’ll look like he doesn’t belong in the NHL. He showed flashes of his Norris ability in game 1 of round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs as he was a wrecking ball physically and dished out several big hits while shutting down the opposing forwards and chipping in offensively. But by the end of the playoffs, he degerated play eclipsed by his performance in the opening round. The Canucks and all their fans are hoping that their patience with Edler will finally pay off this coming season.

With the offseason departure of offensive rearguard, Christian Ehrhoff, the Canucks now have a lot of points that need to be replaced. Even though the Canucks feel confident that their offensive game from the backend will not suffer, it is certain that they are expecting to see Edler take on this opportunity and produce at a higher level. He’ll be given a great opportunity to man the point on the Canucks’ first power play unit with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson, as well as second pairing minutes.

With a healthy season, Edler should to eclipse his 33 point performance from last season and potentially finish above 55 points next season and lead all Canuck defenders in points, as well as being among the top 10 defenseman in scoring in the NHL. In his prime, Edler could produce between 50-to-70 points depending on how he develops and if he can learn to get his shot a bit lower so he can hit the net more often. Edler will become a solid, all-round number one or two defenseman for the Canucks in the near future.

NHL Highlights

  • Drafted 91st overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft
  • 1st NHL Game Played – November 4th, 2006 vs. Colorado Avalanche (2-3 L)
  • 1st NHL Point – November 6th, 2006 vs. Dallas Stars (Assist)
  • 1st NHL Goal – November 30th, 2006 vs. Anaheim Ducks
  • 1st NHL Assist – November 6th, 2006 vs. Dallas Stars
  • 1st NHL Multi-point Game – November 20th, 2007 vs. Edmonton Oilers (Goal and an assist)
  • 1st NHL Playoff GP – April 25th, 2007 vs. Anaheim Ducks (1-5 L)
  • 1st NHL Playoff Point –April 15th, 2009 vs. St. Louis Blues (Assist)
  • 1st NHL Playoff Goal – May 2nd, 2009 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
  • 1st NHL Playoff Assists – April 15th, 2009 vs. St. Louis Blues
  • 1st NHL Multi-point Playoff Game – May 2nd, 2009 vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Goal and an assist)

Career Highlights

  • 2004-05 J20 SuperElit (Overall) Most Points by Defensemen
  • 2005-06 WHL Most Assists by Rookie (40)
  • 2007-08 NHL YoungStars Participant
  • 2007-08 World Championships Bronze Medal

Career Stats

AHL: 51 GP, 5 G, 22 A, 27 Pts
AHL Playoffs:
8 GP
NHL:
304 GP, 32 G, 102 A, 134 Pts
NHL Playoffs:
50 GP, 5 G, 20 A, 25 Pts
SuperElit:
33 GP, 8 G, 15 A, 23 Pts
SuperElit Playoffs:
5 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 Pt
WC:
8 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts
WHL:
62 GP, 13 G, 40 A, 53 Pts
WHL Playoffs:
12 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 Pts
WJC-20:
6 GP, 0 G 1 A, 1 Pt

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