The Los Angeles Kings were hoping to take a step forward this season in their pursuit of a postseason return. A key move made this summer to help achieve that goal was the signing of veteran defenseman Alex Edler. The career Vancouver Canuck only signed a one-year deal, but his two-way ability and veteran presence was expected to be a major addition both on and off the ice in L.A. To this point, Edler has been even more important than anticipated. With star Drew Doughty having missed time due to injury and Sean Walker out for the season with an injury of his own, Edler has been relied upon as one of the few constant contributors of experience and scoring on the Kings blue line.
That is, until now. The Kings have announced that Edler has been placed on injured reserve following an awkward collision into the boards on Saturday night forced him from the game. Edler received a check from Minnesota Wild forward Brandon Duhaime in the first period and lost his balance, falling against the boards in his own zone. Edler’s left ankle appeared to give way as he fell and as Edler was being helped from the ice, he was unable to put any weight on his left leg. To this point, the team has only described the situation as a lower-body injury.
With Edler out, the Kings are losing their defensive scoring leader who has 11 points in 26 games. Edler also leads the team in plus/minus and is second in blocked shots and hits; the reliable defender has played no small role in L.A. this season. Christian Wolanin has been recalled to replace Edler’s roster spot, but it is Olli Maatta that is likely to draw into the lineup first. More pressure will also be placed on Matt Roy, who is enjoying the best season of his career, and rookies Michael Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot, who have excelled thus far despite adversity. The Kings’ season is not quite living up to the expectations they had imagined this season, as they currently sit sixth in the Pacific Division, but their points percentage has improved since last season and the team has a chance to stay in the playoff mix if they can survive another significant defensive absence. The team has not issued any update on the severity of Edler’s injury or any timeline on a return, but the hope is certainly that they will not be without their major free agent addition for too long.