Alexander Edler has hit the ice for the Vancouver Canucks 1,007 times in his NHL career. He has never played a game for another franchise but now enters another uncertain offseason as an unrestricted free agent. One thing that is certain is that he has no plans on retirement; Edler told reporters including Thomas Drance of The Athletic that he wants to play in 2021-22.
In 2019, the Canucks faced a similar decision. Edler made it clear he wanted to stay in Vancouver and the two sides agreed on a two-year, $12MM deal that actually represented the highest per-season salary of his career. The difference now is that Edler is 35 and coming off his worst offensive season, with just eight points in 52 games. For a player that had never registered fewer than 20 previously, that was a precipitous dropoff. Edler’s down year also came in a difficult season for the Canucks, who finished in last place in the North Division.
There’s no doubt that Edler’s next contract will come at a considerably lower salary than his last one, but will it come in Vancouver? The Canucks have young defensemen like Jack Rathbone and Olli Juolevi who will need increased roles, while Tyler Myers and Nate Schmidt are still taking up nearly $12MM in cap already. Quinn Hughes, the team’s most dynamic defender, is up for a new contract and will likely take up a huge chunk of the team’s remaining cap space.
Edler has only received votes for the Norris Trophy on one occasion but he has been a staple in the Canucks lineup since 2007. He sits fourth in franchise games played behind only Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Trevor Linden, tenth in all-time points despite being a defenseman.