Photo Credit: The Province

Why Alex Edler Should Be Captain Of The Vancouver Canucks

There’s yet to be any official announcement, but every indication is that the Vancouver Canucks will be naming the 12th captain in team history—or 14th if you count Dan Quinn and Doug Lidster as “tri-captains” with Trevor Linden in 1990/91—sometime before the start of the 2019/20 season. But who will it be?

In this series, CanucksArmy will be taking a good look at all the serious candidates for the job—and making the best possible arguments for each of them in turn.

It’s important to note that none of these articles represent the actual opinion of this author or the other writers on CanucksArmy. In other words, just because you’re reading an article entitled “Why Alex Edler Should Be Captain Of The Vancouver Canucks” it doesn’t mean we actually believe Alex Edler should be captain of the Vancouver Canucks—we’re just engaging in the mental exercise of advocating for him as a captaincy candidate.

Don’t worry—this author has a fairly inflexible opinion on who should actually wear the “C,” and this series will conclude with a three-part PR campaign for that individual. For now, however, there are several other players that are worthy of your consideration.

Alex Edler: The Safe Choice

Being the captain of an NHL team is a hard job—and that’s doubly true for anyone doing it in a Canadian market. Whoever becomes the next captain of the Vancouver Canucks will face intense scrutiny from the media and fans—and the organization may not want to put any of their young stars in that position quite yet.

There’s a large and vocal portion of the local fanbase that expects the team to make the playoffs in 2019/20—but it’s far from a guarantee. If the Canucks struggle throughout the season, there will be countless tough questions asked of them—and the bulk of them will be directed at the new captain.

Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, and Elias Pettersson have all made enormous strides at the NHL level already—but each of them is still within the upward portion of their developmental curves. Jim Benning and Co. certainly hope that each of them will continue to improve offensively and continue to add new elements to their game—and that might be best done without the distraction of the captaincy weighing them down.

If the Canucks want to avoid burdening their elite talents with the “C”, there’s an easy solution waiting in the wings—just make Alex Edler the captain.

Respect The Eagle

Not only is Edler the longest-standing player on the roster by a big country mile, he’s also the franchise’s all-time leading scorer from the blueline. Whenever he retires, he’s a guaranteed addition to the Ring of Honour. His career with the Canucks is certainly worthy of celebration—and awarding him with the captaincy for his final few seasons with the team would make for a fitting tribute.

Though Edler has never been known as a vocal leader, he’s at the stage in his career in which he can effectively lead by example—and his reputation as a defensive workhorse makes him an excellent example for young players to learn from. In fact, Edler has been the de facto leader on the blueline for a few seasons already—and he’s had a notable impact on the development of defenders like Troy Stecher and Ben Hutton.

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It’s Never Too Early To Wait

There’s plenty of support for the Canucks to name one of their elite young forwards as team captain—and while Bo Horvat is by far the most popular choice, there are at least two others who might deserve it just as much.

Elias Pettersson is only one season into his NHL career. With all the wonderful components that have already emerged in his game, would anyone be surprised if he eventually developed into a premier leader? It wouldn’t be the first—or second—time that the Canucks have been led by a Swedish star. If Horvat gets the “C” and then Pettersson takes over a dominant leadership role on the team, what do you do?

Brock Boeser might be the most morally just player in franchise history. He’s basically the hockey version of Steve Rogers—and so the idea of him becoming the Canucks’ own Captain America is anything but far-fetched.

Choosing between Horvat, Pettersson, and Boeser isn’t quite so obvious a choice as it might seem on the surface—and it could only become more complicated as each of their careers progress. Luckily, the Canucks don’t have to make a decision quite yet—they can just let Alex Edler hold the job down for a year or two while they continue to re-assess.

The Sedin Connection

At the age of 33, Alex Edler is coming off one of the best seasons in his 13-year NHL career despite battling numerous injuries. That alone is a testament to his dedication to fitness and preparation—and that should remind you of some other Swedish guys who used to play for the team.

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No player on the roster represents a stronger link to Daniel and Henrik Sedin than Edler. He spent 12 years playing with them and learning from them, and he was there for all their greatest moments. Aside from Chris Tanev—who was a rookie at the time—Edler is the last remaining Canuck to have been around for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals run—and so he knows firsthand what Henrik had to do to lead his team to near-glory.

The debate about whether or not Henrik Sedin or Trevor Linden is the greatest captain in franchise history will likely rage on for years to come—but it doesn’t matter in the context of discussing Edler as captain. Edler played with both of them—and he’s presumably been passing their lessons on to a new generation of Canucks ever since their retirements. By naming him captain, Vancouver can make the legacy official.

The Contract Con

We’ve gone this long without addressing the elephant in the room—Alex Edler is currently slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019—and as of this writing he does not appear to be close to reaching an agreement with the team. It goes without saying that naming Edler as the captain of the team will be difficult if he chooses to sign with another organization.

With that being said, this author is on the record as stating that the smart money is on Edler remaining in Vancouver—even if he briefly tests the waters of the Free Agent Frenzy. Assuming he comes back with a short-term contract, Edler could be in a perfect position to serve as a fill-in captain while the team decides on a long-term leader.

  • Jabs

    Pretty hard to be captain of the Canucks if you’re playing for another team.

    Bo is the leader of this team and heads up the youth movement, no further questions….

  • Fred-65

    Captain no Captain, not a big issue. But if u sign Edler and fear the expansion repercussion is that not true also if you sign a FA ie Myers, you’ll still need to expose a youngster

  • Beer Can Boyd

    Yeah right, Edler for captain because he’s such a team player. Theres been some really dumb articles here in the summer doldrums, this one may take the cake. A captain is meant to be an inspirational player, an emotional leader. Think Stevie Y, or Messier. Bo fits that mold, shows up every night to give his best. No way can you say that about Edler. And the Canucks owe him nothing. They’ve already given him 45 million $, and he has shown no interest in considering the teams needs and wants, only his own. Also, he had 6 mediocre to outright bad years before last years good one. In a contract year, coincidentally.

  • speering major

    question about Edlers contract and the NMC. Can’t the canucks do the opposite of making his contract buyout proof and expose him in the expansion draft with greater salary than his cap hit? Kind of like a way to not have to protect him but not expose him?

    • liqueur des fenetres

      Short answer: yes, they can make his year 3 salary so high that it could discourage Seattle from picking him.

      Long answer: A player at his level wants to have control over his own future, so even if he’s offered a crazy high year 3 salary that scares off Seattle it wouldn’t mean that Vancouver couldn’t retain salary and flip him someplace awful like Edmonton, or that even Seattle wouldn’t pick and then flip him to another team as part of a larger deal.

    • Yes, but there’s risk involved. Seattle might take him anyway since they’ll have zero cap issues in year one. Also, that 2021 offseason is when the Canucks have to re-sign Pettersson, so they might have cap issues of their own to contend with then.

  • I am Ted

    Eddy can barely manage talking to himself let alone fielding all the pressers and interviews that come with the captaincy. Wonder if this trollfest will get 95-100 comments like the Benning one though. Hilarious.

      • Bud Poile

        It’s a troll fest when the troll posts twenty times supporting his Benning rants under five different trolling names.
        Bo was nine years old when the Canucks drafted Edler.
        If Alex signs the three-year deal being talked about he could very well play his entire career of 16 years with the Canucks.
        He has already served as an alternate captain for years with the club,some of those seasons the club went without a club captain.
        I understand the love for Bo but Edler has been a team leader going back more than a decade.

        • Bud Poile

          The real Green Bastard was so P.O.’d with CA’s troll that he left and PQW decided to steal his name,as well.
          Shame the Nation has no accountability to it’s public contributors and their site’s integrity.

  • Killer Marmot

    Assuming he comes back with a short-term contract, Edler could be in a perfect position to serve as a fill-in captain while the team decides on a long-term leader.

    In my book Horvat has already secured that position.

    • Well, when I wrote: “Don’t worry—this author has a fairly inflexible opinion on who should actually wear the “C,” and this series will conclude with a three-part PR campaign for that individual” I thought it was pretty clear who I was talking about.

  • From a logistical standpoint, it makes sense to name captains or alternate captains that can stay healthy. The NHL rules state that only players with the “C” or “A” can speak to on-ice officials. Naming guys like Tanev, Edler, or Sutter as alternate captains just means you’re going to be naming another player to be the alternate “Captain” or alternate “Alternate Captain” because those guys are on IR so much. Sedin and Linden were at points the NHL’s top iron men (679 and 482 games respectively). Naslund was nearly that too (only missed 14 games of 574 games when he was Captain).

  • KGR

    Not so sure what all the fuss about the third year for an Edler contract is? Why would Seattle chose him in the final year of a contract and possible retirement when the the Canucks will have to expose some young improving cost controlled talent. I can easily see Edler getting a no movement clause with an exception for the expansion draft. More of a concern would be the cap hit for the third year.

  • I am Ted

    Pretty dumb article, really. You’d think there’d be other things to write about this week.

    Edler is not a true captain. Sure, he could be given the C but there are better candidates on the team right now.

    • “In this series, CanucksArmy will be taking a good look at all the serious candidates for the job—and making the best possible arguments for each of them in turn.”

      Please read before commenting. This is just the first of many in this series.

      • Defenceman Factory

        appreciate you responding to comments even if a bit frustrating.

        And yes the context in which this article was framed is very clear. I expect the series, when viewed in its entirety will make it very obvious who you believe should be captain.

  • Kanuckhotep

    It’s not the end of the world if the Canucks do not assign the “C” again this year. Three “A”s is fine but I’d say they’re grooming Bo for the job and want him to continue to focus on his game and not deal with the media daily like captains must. Then again it might end up being Petey who is accustomed to the spotlight and the media and at such a young age. I get Stephan’s article and Edler is the just the starting point. Probably no “C” again this year.

  • Rodeobill

    One good reason would be to put the onus of consistent responsible play on his shoulders, which would be good for him. I dont think anyone on the team would disagree that Bo has earned it, and not giving it to him would kida be a slap in the face. Eddy definitely deserves the A, maybe Marky too.

  • Robby-D

    Heh… I saw the title and the author, and thought, “not again.” I can’t believe how often I disagree with this CA writer… Good to know this wasn’t actually your opinion on the matter (this time). The clickbait is still annoying though.

  • Nuck16

    zero chance Edler is captain. For most of his career as a Canuck he didn’t even wear an ‘A’…that’s all you need to know. To me, it seems like hockey is a job for Eddy, not a passion. That wasn’t always the case.