CALGARY, AB – OCTOBER 6: Alexander Edler #23 of the Vancouver Canucks in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 6, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

As we inch closer to the National Hockey League trade deadline, many teams will have to make a decision on whether they will be buyers or sellers. For the Vancouver Canucks, the answer is obvious. How much do they want to sell off a roster which has exceeded expectations due to the arrival of future Calder Memorial Trophy winner Elias Pettersson? There is one question that is dividing the fan base this close to the February 26th deadline, and that is: “What should the Canucks do with Alexander Edler?”

Alexander Edler, drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, has been a full-time Vancouver Canuck since the 2007-2008 season. He put up eight goals and 20 points in 75 games that year as a rookie. Edler is on pace for his best offensive season since he put up 49 points in 2011-2012. He’s doing it all at the age of 32, which is when a player normally hits a decline. His career so far has earned him his spot as one of the best defensemen in Vancouver Canucks history. The leader in games played and points for blue-liners all-time, he keeps adding to that legacy every time he steps out on the ice.

In the last year of a six-year, $30 million dollar contract he signed in 2013, it could be time to move on from Edler. With the team still years away from being a Stanley Cup contender, the assets they receive could be beneficial. The problem is that he has a No Movement Clause, which prevents him from being traded without waiving it. He loves the city of Vancouver so much that he has stated he does not want to leave. That may mean he could turn down a chance to join a team with real cup dreams for a run this spring.

The Two Options

Trade Him

For the fans of the tank and rebuild, Edler should be traded. If that’s the case, what kind of return could the Canucks be looking forward to?

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been many players over the last ten years in a similar predicament. He’s a unique player, a defenseman who has played his whole career with one team. A guy who holds many of the franchise records for defensemen and is still in his early 30’s is a rare feat.

Only one trade comes close, and it’s not that close:

The Dallas Stars received Kris Russell, who 29 at the time of the trade. He had only been with the Flames for three seasons, but he was coming off of a season of 34 points in 79 games.

The biggest return that the Flames received was the 2nd round pick who ended up being Dillon Dube. Jyrkki Jokipakka made no impact with the Flames, playing parts of two seasons with Calgary before being shipped off to the Ottawa Senators. Brett Pollock still hasn’t played a game in the NHL.

Is this the kind of return that Canucks’ fans would be happy with? A downgrade on defense, a former second-round pick and a future second-round pick for one of the best defensemen in their team’s history? They might be kidding themselves if they think the return for an unrestricted free agent defenseman is any more. Especially for a player who may just return to Vancouver in the offseason. The contending teams are already close to the salary cap, which may affect return as well.

Re-Sign Him

On the other side of the coin are fans who are enjoying this team winning just as many games as they are losing. Trading Edler would be a step in the wrong direction. They need good veteran players to play with Quinn Hughes and Olli Juolevi when they make the team. Players like Edler, who can teach and guide them into the next phase of their careers.  A three-year deal at five million per season is a low-risk move because he is playing some of his best hockey at the age of 32. It’s unlikely, but the team could be close to contender status around the end of that deal.

What Jim Benning and the Vancouver Canucks do with Edler before or at the NHL Trade Deadline will divide fans. They could end up with a promising prospect out of the deal, of course. It’s going to take a hell of a deal for them to win over the majority of the fans. That’s a great trade or Edler re-signing for a hometown discount.

The clock is ticking.

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