Trading Alex Edler – Who to Target?

Bobby Ryan - Michael Miller Wikicommons
Bobby Ryan – Michael Miller Wikicommons

The reason Alex Edler’s name is popping up in trade speculation isn’t because he is bad. On the contrary – of all Vancouver skaters, he arguably has the highest trade value. Smart teams would probably prefer Dan Hamhuis to Edler, but Edler is younger, bigger, and puts up better numbers. For most people in hockey, that equates to more trade value.

And yes, the Canucks may be in somewhat of a moral pickle if they trade Edler before July 1st (when his no trade clause kicks in). Did the team promise not to trade him if he took a pay cut on his contract? We’ll never know definitively, but it doesn’t set the right precedent for future contract negotiations if it is true.

At $5 million per season, Edler is a steal. That may sound a bit crazy after watching him bumble through another postseason, but for what he brings to the table (physicality, offense, solid defensive play most of the time, and, of course, his age), he would have easily fetched $6+ million on the open market as a free agent this summer.

I think trading Edler for the right return makes a lot of sense. This team’s defence-corps is a relative area of strength, especially with regards to left side defensemen. Edler and Kevin Bieksa make almost $10 million together, yet they can’t form a decent defensive pairing. The Canucks were a one line team in 2013, and there isn’t much in the way of help on the way. Nicklas Jensen and Zack Kassian have top-six upside, but neither should be relied upon to be productive as a top six forward just yet. Ryan Kesler can’t stay healthy, and David Booth hasn’t been able to turn his fancy stats (possession) into counting stats (production). But that will change. It has to.

Otpimally, you’d have Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins as third line forwards. So that leaves the Sedins and Alex Burrows to fend for themselves offensively yet again.

Also, this:

Moving Edler for a good forward makes sense if the Canucks have plans to add another top-four defenseman (or believe that Chris Tanev is ready for a promotion). It would allow the team to reunite Bieksa and Hamhuis, while moving Garrison back to his natural position as a left-side defenceman, where he could anchor the second pairing with Chris Tanev or a defenseman to be named later.

Who could the Canucks conceivably target for Edler? It would have to be a young top six forward straight across – I don’t really see any other trades that make sense for the team.

LW Bobby Ryan – Anaheim Ducks


Ryan has been involved in countless trade rumours over the past few years. The speculation has quieted down more recently, though. He is a big, talented winger who can play on either side of the puck and drives offense. His 2013 production was down even though he spent almost half of his shifts with Getzlaf and Perry.

Speaking of Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks just contributed huge money and huge term to each of them. And they have a very nice collection of young forwards ready to contribute – Emerson Etem, Peter Holland, Nick Bonino, Patrick Maroon, and so on. Ryan could be trade bait for the right return – a two-way top-four defenseman.

Cam Fowler, Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Luca Sbisa, and Francois Beauchemin are all under contract for a while. Toni Lydman is a UFA. Adding Edler to that first five creates a pretty formidable back end, even with Fowler’s bizarre regression. The Ducks also have a really good young defenseman in the AHL – Sami Vatanen – but he may not be ready for another year.

Ryan would give the Canucks a secondary scorer who can create offense on his own. He’s also a great playmaker, which would work nicely with two shoot-first linemates (Kesler and Booth). And the lame “American Express” moniker could still be applied, too. Sorry Chris.

Is he available?

I am of the mindset that there are no untouchables in the world of professional sports. Ryan isn’t available in the sense that he is being shopped, but for the right return, I could see him moved this summer.

C Sean Couturier – Philadelphia Flyers


Let’s see. He’s 20 years old and already a very good defensive center. He’s big (6-3, 200 pounds), and he doesn’t take a lot of penalties, either. For a team that continues to have discipline issues, that would be a welcomed trait.

Couturier scored four goals (three more than David Booth) in 46 games in 2013. Is he the answer to the scoring woes in Vancouver? It would be asinine to say yes, and at 20 years old the consistent production is still a few years away.

But Couturier was just as much a victim of bad luck this past season as Mr. Booth.


5v5 Individual Shooting %

5v5 On-Ice Shooting %

5v4 On-Ice Shooting %









Essentially, he wasn’t scoring on as many of his shots (highlighted by the four goals). Also, his overall production wasn’t even all that much worse than his rookie season.

It’s worth noting that Couturier’s total point production really didn’t fall off much at all from last year to this year. He went from a rookie year output of 0.35 points per game to 0.33 per game this year. There was a drop-off at even strength (1.81 P/60 last year to 1.14 this year), but improved performance on the PP (1.73 P/60 last year, 3.51 this year) helped close that gap.

Oh, and playing with plugs (and Matt Read) for wingers can’t help a whole lot, either.



Line Combination







What is most impressive is his emergence as an elite defensive center. Again, at the age of 20.

Is he available?

If he is, he shouldn’t be. You know when the media keeps talking about a player who may be available, and it just doesn’t make any sense to you? That would be Couturier this past year.

And say what you want about Darren Dreger – the man has connections.

“We know that the Ducks are looking for a center, and Sean Couturier’s name is in play. That connection could happen if there is a hockey deal.”

Why on earth would a team potentially move a 20 year old center with Couturier’s pedigree and upside? (To fill a huge need, of course.)

And that is where Edler comes in. Kimmo Timonen has been one of the best (and most underrated) defensemen in the NHL over the past 10 years, and the Flyers are really going to miss him when he retires (likely after this season). Even with him in the lineup, their defensive group is an average one.

Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Luke Schenn, and Nicklas Grossman are all locked up long term. Coburn is a good skater, but he isn’t an offensive defenseman. Meszaros can’t stay healthy. Among the younger guys, I like Erik Gustafsson the most. The rest all have limited NHL upside. Edler would immediately become the best offensive blue liner on the team, and he could be someone they could groom to replace Timonen on the top pairing.

Stay tuned for more Edler trade speculation over the coming days/weeks/months.


Also – I recently published my second annual Top 50 NHL Trade Value Rankings. No Ryan, Couturier, or Edler on there, but a few Canucks made it (near the bottom). Check it out here (warning, it is a long read).

  • Big Time Mike

    Let’s not forget the Canucks paid Edler (and Garrison too) during the lockout while they were “injured”. This was a big factor in the hometown discount both those players gave to the Canucks. Fact is the Canucks don’t owe anything to Edler for the cheaper deal because he was compensated through the generous diagnosis of the team doctor. If there’s a trade that makes sense for the team, they should do it.

  • Big Time Mike

    The big unknown is whether or not Edler could improve his game working with a different coach.

    MG will have to look into his crystal ball and try to guess whether Elder can become consistently better or not. If he thinks working with a different coach will help, you stick with him and trade someone else.

    Another gamble that MG will get ridiculed for in retrospect if it goes the wrong way.

  • Big Time Mike

    The thing that most intrigues me about a trade for Couturier is the potential to package Luongo into the deal. My crystal ball is currently in the repair shop so I have no idea if Philly has the jam to buy out Bryz, but if they do I would love to see an Edler/Luongo for Couturier/Simmonds deal.

    Instant third line.

  • Big Time Mike

    In my opinion Edler’s regression had a lot to do with AV. When you have a defensman who has the potential of Edler you do not ask him to change his game to play to a system, a coach should build his system around that player. AV was so stubborn that over the last 2 seasons he refused to change to suit Edler’s needs and he forced Edler to play on his off-side in a system that did not suit his game. Over the last 5 seasons and 329 games Edler has accumulated 43 goals and 189 points, if he has a coach that is willing to help him clean up the defensive aspects of his game or put him in a system where his defensive errors can be avoided he could easily be one of the top 20 defencemen in the league. To me a new coach is the first step to taking Edler to the next level and keeping him would be a no-brainer if he didnt have an NTC. If the Canucks are serious about trading him stright-up or as part of a package it better be for a young 3rd line center with a huge offensive upside that could replace Sedin or Kesler in the next 2-4 years.

  • Any thoughts on a match with the Oilers? Management has said a bold move is needed and they have a plethora of young scorers and are in need of a top 4 D and a goalie. I know the whole rivalry thing is in play but they make sense as trade partners to mezz

    • elvis15

      Unlikely anything with the Oilers would happen. They have young talent, but it’s mostly still pretty raw or unproven at the NHL level (they aren’t giving us Eberle before you ask). Being in our division even after realignment next season means we’d have to end up seeing a lot of him and that could magnify just what we gave up.

      I’m hesitant to trade Edler at all for the reasons already mentioned, but Ryan is an exception I might make for a divisional trade (imagine a Ryan/Kesler/Jensen or Kassian line) if we can afford him. Otherwise, trading to one of the other three divisions is all but a must.

    • elvis15

      Well, Ehrhoff’s nickname in San Jose was Errorhoff. He seemed to work out pretty well for us (and not so bad for the Sabres currently). Any flaws can be easily overlooked when your a D that puts up ~50 points a season.

      • elvis15

        And how did Errorhoff do in the finals against boston? Anyways, he’s no good now seeing as how Canucks GM fatso Gillis traded him away now. Well, at least the Canucks tradition of trading away good players and keep crap continues.

        • elvis15

          Ehrhoff was not traded away, his rights were when he decided he wouldnt sign for the same price as the rest of our D. He was in it for the money, and left for that albatross of a contract that the Sabres offered him, and good riddance at that price.
          No matter how well he plays, which hasnt been great for the Sabres, he would never be worth that kind of money.