After a negotiation that seems like it’s been going on for literally ever, a report emerged today from Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwhal that Alex Edler and the Vancouver Canucks may be parting ways.
Edler, an unrestricted free agent, has had something of a tumultuous last year in Vancouver. While his play on the ice was stellar—he was named the team’s best defenceman in a fan vote—his name was constantly tossed around as possible trade bait for the rebuilding team.
And when general manager Jim Benning finally asked Edler to waive his no-trade clause—reportedly a week before the trade deadline—the veteran defenceman declined (as is well within his right).
The thought at the time was that Edler wanted to stay in Vancouver (where he met his wife and has raised his children) for the duration of his career.
It’s something Benning and Canucks brass paid lip service to as well. But now, negotiations have hit a stumbling block, with the length of a prospective deal reportedly being the main point of contention for the team.
If the Canucks give Edler three years or more on a deal (along with a no-move clause, which he’ll surely want), they’ll have to protect him in the Seattle expansion draft. Whether that’s a smart course of action for a 33-year-old rearguard is up for debate. (Spoiler: it’s probably not.)
So the team can’t really be blamed for not wanting to hand that out. And Edler can’t be faulted for getting what he feels he’s worth. There will, after all, be teams willing to pay that price to get Edler’s name on a deal. We can even see him getting something close (if a couple years less) than his current six-year pact that pays him $5 million a season.
That he was fourth on the club in points (He put up 34 in 56 games) while missing a handful of contests due to injury, should be enough to prove to a contending team that he belongs in a top-four role.
If and when Edler walks in free agency (other teams can start interviewing players a day after the NHL Draft but he can only sign somewhere else starting July 1), the Canucks will still be blamed, and rightfully so.
Not signing him to a bad contract is one thing, but getting nothing for a valuable asset is another. Yes, he said no to a potential trade, but the Canucks should have started the process ages ago, if not years. If the team tried to move him last summer, it might have been much palatable for Edler. Not a week before the trade deadline.
If he departs, Edler will be rightfully remembered as one of the best (if not “the”) best defencemen in Canucks history. It’s too bad the Canucks couldn’t use him to continue the rebuild, in one way or another.
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