Corrado back to Utica. That means Edler is a go tonight. #Canucks
— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) January 13, 2014
In advance of a tonight’s big game against the Los Angeles Kings, news has trickled out that Alex Edler is expected to make his return to the Canucks lineup after a 16-game absence. With Edler back in the mix on blueline the team has gone ahead and sent Frankie Corrado back to Utica, to continue his development and see more ice-time.
Read on past the jump for a quick take on what this means for Edler, Corrado, and the Canucks.
Regardless of how you feel about Edler as a player – which by my calculations, features about as wide an array of opinions as any player in Vancouver – there’s no denying that this is a huge upgrade for a team that has really been floundering as of late. It sure seemed like the Canucks had hit the breaking point with the injuries piling up, resulting in quite the dramatic dip in the rate at which they were controlling possession. We figure that should go up as the reinforcements roll in, and the infirmary empties out, the first of which is Edler.
The Swedish defenseman has received his (and everyone else’s) share of criticism in the past, but particularly this season, and while some of it is justified, a large portion of it is not. Something we need to take into account when evaluating his play is that he’s logging by far the toughest regular season minutes of his career under John Tortorella. That fact has come as a bit of a surprise to me after I had explored the idea of sheltering him, and letting him feast on the opposition in cake minutes back in the preseason.
His 49.2% offensive zone start rate is the lowest of his career (56.6, 57.8, 59.6 the previous 3 seasons), and his Corsi Rel QoC is the highest it has ever been. It also doesn’t help his cause that he has been the subject of some rather unfortunate bounces through his 27 games on the ice; his 5.19% on-ice shooting % is a far cry from the ~8% he has had next to his name for pretty much his entire career. As a result, he has a 9.58 PDO (remember when Dan Hamhuis’ was this low early on?), and a -12 rating which his critics will undoubtedly point to as a sign that "he’s a bum".
But I assure you, he’s not. He’s shooting the puck at a nearly identical rate to ’11-’12, when he scored 11 goals and registered 49 points. The thing about that season – and the year prior, when he was on pace for 53 points before a back injury sidelined him for a large chunk of the campaign – is that he was enjoying being part of a wicked power play unit next to a prime version of the Sedins. That obviously hasn’t been the case this year, as he had been moved down to the 2nd unit in an attempt to shake things up and provide some balance.
While I agree that the team definitely needs him to play better than he has thus far, and that he hasn’t reached the peak of his potential, I think we need to stress the importance of context when gauging his performance. I’d say it’s a testament to how revered he is in the hockey community that he was named to the Swedish Olympic Team despite his perceived struggles.
Meanwhile, it’s difficult to take anything from Corrado’s 6-game stint up with the team considering he was averaging fewer than 9 minutes/game, topping 10 just once. It makes sense that they’d send him down for more seasoning, especially since Mike Gillis had made it abudantly clear in the preseason that getting Corrado the reps was the most important thing on the agenda.
Edler being back is great, but what we all want to know is when is Ryan "Bieksa’s Calming Presence" Stanton going to be back?
— ; (@notafullcolon) January 13, 2014
Tongue-in-cheek, but still kind of true.