January 18 2013 10:42PM
I'd like to congratulate Alex Edler on agreeing to terms on a new multi-year deal. Details to follow.— Mike Gillis (@GMMikeGillis) January 19, 2013
Probably the defining characteristic of the Mike Gillis regime has been the consistent strength of his contract work. Alex Edler's new six year thirty-million dollar contract extension which, was first announced Friday night through Mike Gillis' rarely used Twitter account, is just the latest example. Obviously the deal comes with a moderate degree of risk, but there's no questioning that this is very good deal for a very useful player.
Read on past the jump.
Let's cover the risk part first. While Alex Edler was an all-star defenseman last season and put up double digit goal totals and nearly fifty points, his defensive play is occassionally suspect and he's prone to bouts of inconsistency. This past Spring in Vancouver's first round series against the Kings for example, Edler repeatedly made incredibly frustrating and costly unforced errors like this one, or this one.
The 26 year old Swedish defenseman has also battled back spasms and a bulging disc over the past couple of years, missing the second half of the 2010-11 regular season after undergoing micro-discectomy surgery and Edler also remained on Vancouver's payroll for most of the 2012-13 NHL lockout while receiving treatment. This sort of injury is generally manageable, but it's not something you ever really recover from. Throughout the 2011-12 season Edler missed practices and even left a game last winter early because he was dealing with back spasms.
Finally, Alex Edler is untested on the right-side (and the early returns have been inauspicious). So with Edler's extension now on the books the Canucks have four primarily left-side defenseman (Edler, Keith Ballard, Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison) signed long-term. By the beginning of the 2013-14 season, those four players will carry a combined cap-hit of 18.3 million dollars.
Yes, I know, it's very likely that Keith Ballard will be bought out at the conclusion of the lockout shortened 2013 campaign (especially in light of this extension). But even at 14.1 million for just Edler, Hamhuis and Garrison, that's a lot of cap-space to spend on four defenseman that you're not absolutely certain will fit seamlessly onto two defensive pairings.
If you want to read Mike Gillis comment on some of those risks, Jason Botchford has the quotes. He also reports that Edler's contract will include a no-trade clause.
Now all of that said, Edler represents extraordinary value at just five-million per for six years. While it seems like he's been a Canuck forever, he's only 26 years old. Defenseman often peak in their late 20s or early 30s, so this extension locks up Edler through to his age 33 season during what should be his peak years.
Meanwhile Edler's cap-hit would represent the 24th highest cap-hit in the league this season (among defenseman, just a hair less than Dustin Bfuglien, and tied with Paul Martin). So yeah, this is another typically excellent piece of contract work by Gillis and his chief negotiator Laurence Gilman.
Let's formulate this in a different way: the Canucks basically bought six UFA years from Edler and somehow managed to do so while paying below market value. Consider the list of unrestricted free agent defenseman who will hit the open market this upcoming summer and are under the age of 30: Ryan Whitney (29), Ian White (28), Anton Babchuk (28), Ladislav Smid (26) and then a bunch of guys like Adam Pardy, Ryan O'Byrne and Mark Fistric. Yikes, right?
Alex Edler was looking at being easily the most highly coveted free-agent defenseman on the market in about six months time. It's really not difficult to imagine that he could've demanded seven million per year (and an extra year to boot) and got it in that sort of "sellers market." Instead he's locked up in Vancouver for the next six seasons, which just awesome.
Correction: this article originally attributed some Mike Gillis quotes to Ben Kuzma, when in fact the article in question was written by Jason Botchford. This is what happens when the Canucks announce a major roster move at 11:30 EST, when I've already been drinking for a couple of hours.