With renewed confidence, Edler is ‘back to where he was a couple of years ago’

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If you believe what was reported, the Vancouver Canucks came oh-so-close to trading defenseman Alex Edler during last season’s nightmare campaign that ended with the firings of both general manager Mike Gillis and head coach John Tortorella.

At the time, it was a trade for which many Canucks fans were pushing. Edler was struggling. He finished the season with the NHL’s worst plus/minus (-39). Move him while he still had an ounce of value, they argued.

Given Vancouver’s encouraging 16-7-1 start to the current season, it’s worth wondering where the Canucks would be if that deal had gone through, because Edler has been easily their best blue-liner in 2014-15, logging almost 24 minutes per contest on a top pairing with Chris Tanev.

“A lot of his game is confidence,” GM Jim Benning told The Province. “When a coach has confidence in a player and that player then has confidence in himself, it can take you a long way.

“I think from Day 1, (new assistant coach) Doug Lidster has worked with him and done a really good job helping him regain his confidence. It’s helping him get back to where he was a couple of years ago.”

That was the plan all along for the new management group in Vancouver, with hockey ops boss Trevor Linden saying in June that, instead of trading the player, “our job is to recapture the Alex Edler that we all know he can be. He has the skill-set that every team wants and we just have to get him back where he should be.”

Safe to say, with Dan Hamhuis expected to be out six weeks or longer, Edler will be relied upon even more over the next little while.

The Canucks are in Washington to take on the Capitals tonight.