Veteran defenseman Alex Edler has had a long and successful career as a capable shutdown blueliner. However, at 37, he’s coming off a year that saw him in a very limited role so some had wondered if his playing days were coming to an end. While he doesn’t have a contract or tryout yet, that doesn’t appear to be Edler’s plan as Jeff Paterson of The Hockey News reports (Twitter link) that the rearguard is hoping to play in 2023-24.
Edler spent the bulk of his 17-year NHL career with Vancouver and had a 14-year stretch that saw him average a minimum of 20 minutes per night while recording at least 20 points in 13 of those. Not too many blueliners have that type of longevity. However, after an injury-riddled 2020-21 campaign, the Canucks opted to move on.
He quickly landed with Los Angeles for the 2021-22 campaign, inking a deal worth up to $3.5MM with bonuses. While Edler played well in limited action (he spent nearly three months on LTIR), he opted to forego testing the market last summer, instead signing for the league minimum with another $750K in potential bonuses, a deal that gave the Kings some extra flexibility to work with.
Unfortunately for Edler, last season wasn’t particularly strong. While he stayed healthy, he found himself a frequent scratch and when he did suit up, his ice time was limited to just 14:46 per game, by far his lowest ATOI since his rookie campaign back in 2006-07. Edler saw a bit of playoff action but his ice time was capped even lower. Basically, his performance last year wasn’t strong enough to command a guaranteed contract through the first two-plus months of free agency.
At this point of his career, Edler is likely to be relegated to the type of role he had last season as a sixth or seventh option who isn’t an every-game player. Those players still have their uses but it would need to be on a team-friendly contract that is at or near the minimum without bonuses. In the meantime, not too many of those deals are handed out at this point of the summer so if Edler wants to extend his career to an 18th NHL campaign, he may have to go the PTO route to do so.