The Vancouver Canucks and Alexander Edler have finally agreed upon a new deal. The veteran defenseman has re-signed with the Canucks on a two-year contract worth a total of $12MM. GM Jim Benning released a statement on the signing:
Alex is important to our team and has played as the cornerstone of our defence throughout his career. He’s a leader with tremendous experience, plays important minutes and contributes to every part of our team game. We’re very pleased for Alex and his family that he’ll continue his career as a Vancouver Canuck.
After reports had surfaced yesterday that the two sides had finally found a solution on the biggest sticking point—Edler did not want to be exposed in the upcoming Seattle expansion draft—many expected the deal to be three or four years in length but not include a no-movement clause. Instead, the two sides have come to an agreement that will see the veteran defenseman hit the open market in 2021. While that technically leaves him open to being selected in the draft—expansion clubs are allowed to take a certain number of pending free agents—he would never have to actually play for Seattle if he didn’t want to.
By keeping the term short, Benning did need to offer a fair amount of money. Edler will actually get a raise on the $5MM cap hit he carried for the past six years, and once again becomes the most expensive defenseman on the Canucks roster. In fact, his $6MM cap hit matches Loui Eriksson as the highest on the team, though restricted free agent Brock Boeser may have something to say about that in the coming days.
Unlike Eriksson though, Edler is still an effective piece for the Canucks moving forward. While he has deal with injuries in almost every season of his career, he still is an excellent puck-moving option for the team that can log huge minutes in all situations. Through 56 games last season the 33-year old had 34 points, a pace that would have seen him set a new career high. If that same player returns to the team next season Edler will be perfect insulation as the young Quinn Hughes gets his feet wet in the NHL.
The deal does however once again weaken what is a razor thin free agent defense group. Beyond Tyler Myers and Jake Gardiner there are very few legitimate top-four options, with older players like Anton Stralman, Ron Hainsey and even Niklas Kronwall leading the way. That kind of shallow pool is another reason why the trade market has been so active and will likely continue to be, with players like Justin Braun, Olli Maatta, Radko Gudas, Matt Niskanen and Jacob Trouba already changing hands. Vancouver was expected to be involved in that trade market, but retaining Edler at least guarantees that one of their top spots will be filled by someone they can rely on next season.