We’ve Got an Edler Down!

Ladies and gentlemen, we have an Edler down!

The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Alex Edler will be out indefinitely and will immediately undergo microdiscectomy surgery.

YIKES. The Canucks depth on defense is facing its toughest challenge. Ever.

Alex Edler is out. And this hurts BIG TIME.

As noted by Nucks Misconduct, Edler is the Canucks’ leading defenseman in points & assists, he’s tied in goals for defensemen, he leads the team in blocked shots & leads defensemen in powerplay time-on-ice, as well as even-strength time-on-ice.

While the Canucks managed fine without Edler last night against the Predators, understand that the Preds are not exactly an offensive juggernaut, as I mentioned yesterday. So the Canucks defensive depth will face its biggest test, as this means that Edler, Salo, Alberts and Rome are all currently out. As Canucks fans start to panic a bit, let’s look into how long the Canucks might be without their best defenseman.

Information posted online from the USC Center for Spinal Surgery indicates that patients can return to sports in about 4-6 weeks. This is supported by an article on Spine Health, discussing the post-operative care of microdiscectomy patients, where they state that patients can return to full physical activity in approximately 6 weeks. Assuming that athletes can heal and recuperate faster than a normal patient, we could assume that Edler would be back in about 4 weeks. Realistically, Alex Edler will miss all of February, assuming he heals and progresses as hoped.

So the big question now is… when does the cavalry return? Right now, the Canucks also have Andrew Alberts, Aaron Rome and Sami Salo still on the IR. With Alberts and Rome likely back in the week following the All-Star break, the Canucks will have to contend with their current defensive roster for about 3-4 games. After that, the question becomes when does Salo return? Is he three weeks away? 4? Maybe it’s only 2?

The Canucks defensive depth is certainly being put to the test now. But Mike Gillis has done a great job building that depth. Meanwhile the Manitoba Moose have done a fantastic job preparing their players for a chance to play in the NHL upon being called up. So far Chris Tanev has proved to be a stable replacement, while Lee Sweatt had a dream-like debut with the Canucks, scoring the game winner on his first NHL shot.

The Canucks injury situation on defense looks bleak. And it is. So what is the silver lining?

Well, the news comes on the heals of the All-Star break, which means that the Canucks automatically have almost a full week off. Good.

Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome should be out for only another week after the break ends. Good.

With Edler out indefinitely, this helps immediately solve the Canucks cap crunch. This means that the Canucks will be able to activate Salo (once he’s ready) without having to trade anyone. Good.

There are still 32 games remaining in the regular season, and the Canucks are in 1st place in the Western Conference by 5 points and have a 15-point lead in the Northwest Division. So they have a good cushion in the standings and have time for their blueline to heal before the playoffs start. Good.

While the news today is certainly terrible for Edler, given the terrific season he’s had thus far. It could be a lot worse. The Canucks could be in 9th place and this could be game #80.