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.
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.
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.