In praise of Alex Edler’s 6-year, $30-million extension with Vancouver Canucks

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“On the surface it means au revoir Alex Edler at the end of this very shortened season unless he’s willing to take a Prince William haircut.”

That was the ever-provocative Tony Gallagher on the NHL lockout’s effect on the Vancouver Canucks and their chances to retain the services of Edler, one of their top defensemen. Well, snip, snip – on Friday, Edler’s haircut looked like a 6-year, $30-million contract extension that brings him under what he might have earned as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Riddle us this: Would you rather have Matt Carle or Alex Edler on your blueline for the next six years?

Carle, 28, signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a UFA for a $5.5 million annual cap hit. Edler, 26, comes in at $5 million a season. Granted, both arguably played their best hockey with much-lauded partners – Chris Pronger made Carle, while Christian Ehrhoff took the pressure off Edler.

But if your answer is Carle, then you might want to watch a Western Conference game once in a while.

Edler led the Canucks in ice time last season (23:51) and played on both special teams. As Daniel Wagner of Pass It To Bulis noted, it wasn’t a stellar season for him despite impressive stats:

As for actual statistics, Edler’s shooting percentage was actually the second lowest of his career, despite his career high in goals. In addition, the shooting percentage of himself and his teammates when he was on the ice was the lowest of his career. The save percentage of the Canucks’ goaltenders when he was on the ice was also the lowest of his career, which means his PDO, which is a combination of on-ice shooting and save percentages, was also the lowest of his career.

All of this adds up to a player who, despite scoring 49 points and getting picked for the All Star Game, actually had a lot of bounces go against him this past season. And for a player who has lacked certainty in his own ability to be a top-tier defenceman, it’s not a stretch to think that those bad bounces could wreak havoc on Edler’s confidence.

(Maybe a 6-year extension boosts it.)

We’re not sure if the kudos go to GM Mike Gillis, the organization or the glorious city of Vancouver that keeps these players taking less money to remain Canucks. But they keep doing it.

Edler could have made bank next summer. Instead, he signs for less, avoids a season of uncomfortable questions about his future and solidifies a blue line with the top four locked up through 2016.

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