Entering a critical season for the LA Kings, we take the time to review one of the club’s more underrated signings in Alex Edler.
This off-season was beyond critical for GM Rob Blake and his LA Kings because it was finally time to slowly exit the rebuilding portion of Blake’s plan, and enter the “playoff push” zone. Rob Blake had to improve the team, and that’s exactly what he did.
The LA Kings were in search of specific players that would assist the team in becoming better. What did the Kings need? Well, they needed a pure sniper with previous NHL success. Blake brought in Viktor Arvidsson from the Nashville Predators via trade to fulfill that need. They also needed a stronger depth piece, so Blake signed a Russian player by the name of Vladimir Tkachyov that has found earlier prosperity in the KHL.
As soon as free agency opened up, Blake reached into his hat full of magic tricks and began his wonderful trickery.
Blake didn’t get to work until later into the day, but he eventually signed the ideal forward that LA had been looking for. Phillip Danault agreed to sign a six-year deal, and the Kings found their elite, defensively minded forward that they were looking for. Not only that, but they also managed to find their second-line center in the process.
Then came another signing, grabbing the attention of all Kings fans once again.
Alex Edler agreed to terms with the Kings to a one-year deal, and that meant that the silver-and-black found their left-handed defenceman that they urgently needed. The issue was that there wasn’t enough power on the left side of the defense as it only consisted of underperforming Olli Maatta, young defensive defensemen Mikey Anderson, Christian Wolanin and Tobias Bjornfot. There wasn’t enough depth, and that’s why the Kings signed Alex Edler to a one-year deal.
It’s great that the Kings brought in Alex Edler to help with the struggles that they were going through, but other than security on the left side, what does the Swedish veteran bring to the table?
Well, let’s start with the fact that he’s no youngster at 35. Plus, this may be his final NHL season depending on what decisions he makes next summer. “Eagle” (which is Edler’s nickname), celebrated his 35th birthday in April and is now entering his 16th season in the NHL. He’s obviously got tons of NHL experience as he’s been through it all.
In his 15 years in Vancouver, he’s been through a Stanley Cup Finals series, mediocre years, and rebuilding years. He’s witnessed it all, and the game of hockey is nothing new to him.
Edler was considered as a hero to Canucks fans as some Vancouver supporters have gone as far as proclaiming he deserves to have his number retired by the organization due to his incredible past of domination and his tremendous leadership that he’s provided his former team. Even though Alex never was a captain for the Canucks, he served as an alternate captain for three years between 2018-19 and 2020-21.
Three years of being an alternate captain doesn’t seem too long, but in reality, he’s been a leader throughout his entire time in Vancouver. Ex-teammates like Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, and Elias Pettersson have referred to Edler as one of the best leaders in the league. He could be a perfect role model to the young players entering their first season in the NHL with Los Angeles, and what other guy would fit the job better? I’ll cut to the chase: nobody. Not only is Alex Edler an experienced role model, but he’s still serviceable as an excellent penalty killer with some of the best defensive play we’ve seen from a player at his age.
Being a role model to all the young kids will be a huge part of Edler coming to the City of Angels, but when I think about who Edler can teach the most to, Tobias Bjornfot is the only player that comes to mind. Give it some thought.
They’re both left-handed defensmen who were drafted out of the Swedish leagues, they’re both Swedish, and they both have the same playing styles: a fantastic offensive game while being responsible defensively, making them marvelous two-way defensemen. Not to mention that they both came in relatively quickly into the NHL because their respective teams were suffering in the defensive end.
Bjornfot and Edler have countless similarities and that’s what makes me think that bringing Alex Edler in to mentor Tobias Bjornfot in hopes of creating a copy of young Edler is genius. Young Alex Edler was a defenseman who was capable of going from end to end and scoring a nasty goal. Young Alex Edler was also proficient in recording up to 50-point seasons while staying elite in his own end. Would you want Bjornfot putting up 50-point seasons in the next few years? I know I would, and I know Alex Edler will help Tobias develop.
Now that we have addressed what Edler could do off the ice and on the ice in terms of leadership, what can he do on the ice to help the team win games?
We’ve talked about how the young Alex Edler isn’t coming back. That 50-point scoring defenseman with a kick to his game is long gone, but what people don’t realize is that he’s still a serviceable top-four D-man.
Above shows Edler’s player card from the 2020-21 NHL season, (credit to Jfresh as usual). First things to notice is how Edler had an 89% on even-strength offence, even though he didn’t score or get too many points. He took many shots on net — even if they didn’t go in — just to generate some rebound opportunities for the forwards. Not to mention his 63% even-strength defensive skill proving how he’s still effective on the back end. What makes this more impressive is that he was on the Vancouver Canucks last year, a team that was ranked last on the defensive skill charts by Topdownhockey.
Some other things to notice is how his penalty-kill is at 52% proving that even at 35 years of age, he can still be a decent PKer. His quality of competition ranks at 98% which checks out considering the Canucks constantly played him against players like Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl every single night.
What Alex Edler has accomplished in Vancouver was amazing, but what he can accomplish in Los Angeles will be very intriguing to see. A fresh city and a fresh team that’s looking to compete with a wide variety of young and seasoned players will surely be a fresh start for Edler. Alex had trust in Rob Blake’s plan (I mean, we all do) and that’s why he wanted to join the Kings. The addition of Edler will help the silver-and-black on the left side of the defence core tremendously and will help the Kings not only to be better in the D-zone, but will also have a positive morale effect on the youngsters getting a shot at the NHL.