Loui Eriksson – Wikimediacommons
In the final installment of the Alex Edler trade series, we take a look at one more forward who the Canucks could target if they do end up shopping the big Swedish defenseman this summer. Here were the previous posts:
A quick refresher on why Edler’s name is mentioned in trade talks:
[Edler’s] name is only surfacing in speculation because he seems to be the only core player with great trade value (and the only one that could be realistically traded). You don’t move players like Edler for the sake of it – he’s a proven top pairing defenseman with a lot of great qualities.
Vancouver probably won’t end up dealing Edler (I’d say the chances of him being moved are somewhere between 20 and 30%). But if they want to make some significant changes to the core (and improvements to the offense), he is easily the most valuable asset they have to work with.
Loui Eriksson – LW/RW Dallas Stars
DefendingBigD’s Brandon Worley analyzed Loui Eriksson’s future in Dallas in this post.
Eriksson is arguably the best player on the team. An incredible two-way forward with top possession ability as well as elite scoring prowess has Eriksson’s name on the list of some of the top forwards in the NHL. His humble demeanor and and off the ice, as well as where he plays, has led to Eriksson becoming known as the most underrated player in the NHL.
No argument there. Eriksson wasn’t his usually consistent self offensively in 2013, but he is one of the best two-way forwards in hockey. From 2009 until 2012, he registered seasons of 71, 73, and 71 points, respectively. And he is a massive salary bargain – $4.25 million per season until 2016. That’s David Booth money! Worley believes the Stars should target a top six center for Eriksson, which doesn’t make Vancouver a good fit. Right now, Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin are the two top centers in Dallas. Eakin is a terrific young forward, but he isn’t second line material just yet.
I don’t see the Canucks moving Ryan Kesler unless the return is ridiculous, and there simply aren’t many good centers available right now. However, the Stars could use a top pairing defenseman. Edler would become their best blueliner, and could probably slide in quite nicely on the left side with Stephane Robidas (which would allow rookie Brenden Dillon and Trevor Daley or Alex Goligoski to play on pairing two). Dallas’ defense was a weakness in 2013, and the team has been after a true top pairing blueliner since Sergei Zubov retired over a decade ago. Dillon’s rookie season was very encouraging, but it isn’t fair to place that type of pressure on a second-year guy.
Could Edler be that guy?
And for the Canucks, this would allow them to reunite Eriksson with the Sedin twins – the trio recently dominated the World Championships (on the big ice, mind you). Eriksson is essentially a faster Sedin with a bit less passing ability but a better shot – he’s smart, loves to play off the cycle, and he’s very creative with the puck. It would also allow the Canucks to play Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler together on line two. Perhaps with rookie Nicklas Jensen? Vancouver needs to find a way to spread out the scoring on three lines, and this move would accomplish exactly that.
Is he available?
Eriksson has been referred to as untouchable by team owner Tom Gaglardi on more than one occasion. I am of the mindset that there are no untouchables in hockey. If the Stars can find a trade that improves them, they have to think about doing it. And with younger wingers Matt Fraser and Alex Chiasson ready for NHL action, perhaps trading from a position of strength to shore up a weakness makes sense?
And while the turnovers and defensive errors from an up-and-down 2013 season are still fresh in the collective memories of Vancouver fans, Edler is still the defenseman who can do this:
Trading a core player is never an easy decision. But great teams aren’t built on easy decisions. Do you think Dean Lombardi knew unequivocally that moving Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds for Mike Richards was going to work out? The Jeff Carter trade may seen like a no-brainer, but Lombardi did gamble when moving Jack Johnson that Slava Voynov was ready to step up.
General managers aim to mitigate risk wherever they can, but when things get stagnant, sometimes risk is the only way to take the next step (or avoid the inevitable collapse). The Canucks don’t have a knight in shining armour ready to take over, and their forward group leaves much to be desired as it stands right now. Trading Alex Edler may be the only way to keep the window to win open…
Follow Jeff on Twitter @anguscertified