When the Buffalo Sabres threw $40 million at Christian Ehrhoff on July 1, the Vancouver Canucks were loath to admit they’d miss the puck-moving, offensive defenseman.
“I don’t think we lost anything,” Henrik Sedin said rather bluntly. “He was in a spot where we have other guys who can step up and play in that role. Alex (Edler) is going to get more responsibility.”
But when Vancouver stumbled out of the gate, many wondered if Sedin had been dead wrong. The Canucks were shut out three times in their first 10 games and were having a hard time transitioning out of their own end.
It was only temporary though. Vancouver’s offense has since recovered, no small thanks to Edler and the rest of the back end.
After 18 games, Edler sits tied for first among NHL defenseman with 16 points (3G, 13A).
Meanwhile, Sami Salo (4G, 6A) and Dan Hamhuis (2G, 7A) are putting up good numbers of their own.
Even Aaron Rome has three goals, and he’s only played four games.
“I think I said before the season began that, yes, we lose Ehrhoff, but I always thought we have a lot of other guys who can step up,” Sedin told the Vancouver Province yesterday.
Since earning a permanent spot in the lineup in 2007-08, Edler, 25, has shown glimpses of becoming the kind of elite two-way defensemen the Canucks have never had. However, those glimpses were typically followed by stretches where he seemed to forget how to play hockey altogether.
Canucks associate coach Rick Bowness continues to preach patience from fans and media.
“He’s still a young man,” Bowness said. “The best is still years ahead of him. Not days or weeks, but years.
“He had to work on his intensity and his focus, things every young player has to work on. He’s constantly addressing it and the best is yet to come.”
Edler is signed through next season, after which he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent.