Just a few days ago, it looked like the contract negotiations between Alex Edler and the Canucks were dead in the water. Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal, after reporting that negotiations had gone off the rails, said that it looked like Edler was heading to free agency to test the open waters. The apparent sticking point was term: Edler wanted longer, the Canucks wanted shorter.
Not long after, suddenly the negotiations were back on and the two sides were closing in on a deal. Elliotte Friedman said that it appeared to be a three-year deal with a modified no-movement clause. Other reports suggested a $5 to $5.5 million average annual value. Still more reports circulated that it wasn’t a three-year deal; it was a four-year deal.
Sometimes it’s best to just let the rumours buzz around without trying to swat them out of the air. As it turned out, none of the rumours were entirely accurate, as Edler re-signed with the Canucks on a two-year, $12 million contract, with an average annual value of $6 million.
This is a tremendous bit of business for Canucks GM Jim Benning, as he avoids every pitfall presented as if he were playing, er, Pitfall. At just two years, the issue of the Seattle expansion draft is evaded altogether. He won’t have to be protected in the expansion draft unless the Canucks re-sign him with a no-movement clause in two years. In addition, the shorter term avoids any future salary cap troubles and doesn’t leave them shackled to Edler long term if his play declines or has further injury issues.
Since the Canucks have plenty of room under the salary cap, a two-year deal with a higher cap hit was floated by some Canucks media and fans as a way to pay Edler what he’s worth and avoid future issues, but $6 million isn’t even an overpayment.
Evolving Hockey’s contract projection model predicted a three-year, $5.85 million contract for Edler, but with several other free agent defencemen signing recently, it’s likely Edler could have gotten more on the open market. A two-year, $6 million-per-year contract is a very good number for the Canucks.
That leaves plenty of room under the cap for the Canucks to add another defenceman in free agency or the trade market. As much as it’s nice to see the Canucks bring Edler back on such a nice contract, it doesn’t represent an upgrade on the blue line when an upgrade is badly needed. The contract gives Benning a lot of room to maneuver in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Ideally, this will result in less of a load being put on Edler: fewer minutes, less pressure, and hopefully fewer injuries.
What this strongly suggests is that Edler really did not want to leave Vancouver, which makes a lot of sense given his length history with the Canucks and the city, as well as his personality and demeanour. While he and his agent did their best to get the most money on the longest term on this contract, Benning did well to not budge from his priorities and get the Edler re-signed at a hometown-friendly term and cap hit.