The Vancouver Canucks were given a day off Friday, but defenceman Alex Edler was busy nonetheless as he signed a six-year contract extension for $30 million that will make him the highest paid defenceman on the team next season based on salary cap hit.
Edler, 26, is in the final year of a deal that pays him $3.25 million and he stood to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, this summer’s date for the opening of free agency.
Edler’s cap hit of $5 million puts him above the $4.6 million cap charges of both Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis’s $4.5 million.
The contract calls for Edler to make $3.25 million in 2013-14, followed by $4.25 million in 2014-15 and then three years at $6 million before dropping back to $4.5 million in the final year, 2018-19.
“It’s a tremendous thing for our club to have a player like Alex signed,” said Canuck assistant GM Laurence Gilman, who is the team’s chief negotiator. “He was the seventh highest scoring defenceman in the league last season, he plays nearly 24 minutes a game, he plays on the power play and kills penalties and he is only getting better. Alex has not yet reached the prime of his career.
“Having him signed means our defence is going to be stable for years to come.”
With the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million next season, the Canucks may have to either trade Keith Ballard or exercise one of their two compliance buyouts in the summer as Ballard, who is fifth on the blue-line depth chart, still has two years remaining at $4.2 million.
Edler was drafted 91st overall by the Canucks in 2004 and broke into the NHL two years later. The native of Ostersund, Sweden, was discovered by Canuck scout Thomas Gradin playing in a glorified beer league.
Last season, Edler collected a career high 49 points on 11 goals and 38 assists. However, he had a poor first round in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings and committed some egregious mistakes that cost the Canucks goals and games.
In the 2010-11 season, Edler played just 51 games because of back surgery. His back was bothering him enough in September that the team decided to pay him and treat him and he was not locked out. He was finally cleared to play before Christmas.
According to Gilman, the team is not concerned that Edler’s back woes will continue to be an issue.
“No, our medical staff was very involved in Alex’s rehabilitation and we’re confident he’s going to be healthy throughout this deal,” he said.
Since joining the Canucks, Edler has collected 43 goals and 184 points in 386 regular-season games. He has 27 points in 55 playoff games.
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