21 April 1986 |
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||214 lb (97 kg; 15 st 4 lb)|
|NHL team||Vancouver Canucks|
|NHL Draft||91st overall, 2004
Ulf Niklas Alexander Edler (born 21 April 1986) is a Swedish professional ice hockey defenceman and an alternate captain for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was drafted out of Sweden's third-tier ice hockey league by the Canucks in the third round, 91st overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, and played junior ice hockey with Modo of the J20 SuperElit and the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Edler turned professional in North America with the Canucks' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, in 2006–07, seeing some time in the NHL over the course of the season. He became a full-time member of the Canucks the following season, and has since been named to one NHL All-Star Game (2012).
Internationally, he has competed for Sweden on four occasions — at the 2006 World Junior Championships, the 2008 and 2013 IIHF World Championships (winning gold) and the 2014 Winter Olympics (winning silver). Edler is an offensive defenceman noted for his calm on-ice demeanor and strong slapshot.
Sweden and junior (2001–06)
Edler played at the under-17 level with his hometown district team of Jämtland in 2001 and 2002, competing at TV-pucken, a national Swedish tournament. In 2003–04, he joined the professional Jämtlands HF. He played with the club in Sweden's third-tier league, recording three goals and nine points in 24 games, while also appearing in six games for Jämtlands HF's junior team.
Edler was largely unknown during his NHL Draft year, unranked by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau the entire season. He was brought to the attention of the Vancouver Canucks by the team's head scout in Sweden, Thomas Gradin, who saw Edler playing with Jämtlands HF. Although Gradin would refer to the team's level of play as little more than beer-league-calibre, he was impressed with Edler and encouraged Canucks management to draft him (Edler's number 23 with the Canucks would later be chosen by team trainers in honour of Gradin). The Canucks traded up in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft to acquire the Dallas Stars' third-round draft pick in exchange for their own third-round pick in the 2005 Draft, and used the pick to select Edler 91st overall. The deal was made with the Stars in lieu of speculation that the Detroit Red Wings had a high interest in Edler and wanted to draft him in the third round as well. Detroit had discovered Edler in Sweden through their European scout Håkan Andersson, who was responsible for such previous Red Wings late-round picks as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. At the time of his draft, Canucks General Manager Dave Nonis described Edler as a "smooth skater [and a] big guy." Nonis added that, "He needs some time [to develop], but in terms of raw skill, he's got quite a bit of it."
After being selected by the Canucks, Gradin brokered a move for Edler to play with Modo Hockey's junior club of the J20 SuperElit. Edler had previously tried out for Modo's youth program, but was cut. Future Canucks teammates Markus Näslund, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin had also played in the Modo system before joining the NHL. In Edler's lone season with Modo, he recorded eight goals and 23 points over 33 games in 2004–05. He ranked second in point-scoring among league defensemen to Modo teammate Tommy Enström, who recorded 33.
On 29 June 2005, Edler's major junior rights were obtained by the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL); he was chosen by Kelowna in the first round, 58th overall, of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft. The Canucks encouraged Edler to move from Sweden to play junior in North America. After reporting to training camp with the Canucks' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, in September 2005, he was assigned to junior with the Rockets. In his lone WHL season, Edler collected 13 goals and 53 points over 62 games in 2005–06, ranking fifth among WHL defencemen and fourth among total rookies in scoring. He went on to help Kelowna to the second round of the WHL playoffs, where they were eliminated by the Everett Silvertips. In 12 post-season games, Edler added eight points.
Vancouver Canucks (from 2006)
The following off-season, Edler was signed to an entry-level contract by the Canucks on 24 July 2006. Reporting to the Canucks' training camp in September 2006, his play had the Canucks slotting him in as the team's seventh defenseman. However, a hip injury saw him assigned to the Manitoba Moose. Following an injury to Canucks defenseman Sami Salo, he was called up to the NHL on 3 November 2006, two games into his AHL season. He made his NHL debut the following day against the Colorado Avalanche. Eleven days later, however, he was reassigned to the Moose, only to be recalled on 24 November. He scored his first NHL goal on 30 November, a slap shot that beat Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère in a 2–1 loss. Edler was reassigned between Manitoba and Vancouver on several more occasions over the course of the 2006–07 season. He appeared in 22 games total for the Canucks, recording a goal and two assists. With the Moose, he scored five goals and 26 points over 49 games and was named Manitoba's Rookie of the Year.
Playing in his rookie season with the Canucks the following season,[notes 1] Edler was chosen to compete in the 2008 NHL YoungStars Game. Representing the Western Conference, his team was defeated by the Eastern Conference by a 7–6 score. Playing amidst numerous injuries on the Canucks' blueline, Edler appeared in the most games among team defensemen with 75. With all the injuries to his teammates, he was given additional time on the power play and penalty kill. His eight goals ranked second among rookie defensemen in the NHL, while his 20 points was fifth overall.
At the start of the 2008–09 season, Edler was re-signed to a four-year, $13 million contract extension on 9 October 2008. The contract, a raise from his 2008–09 salary of $550,000, took into effect the following campaign. The following month, he missed two games sidelined with the flu. Later in the season, he recorded a personal best four-point game (one goal and three assists) in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on 7 February 2009. He finished with 37 points, including a career-high ten goals. In the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, Edler led all team defensemen with seven points in ten games as the Canucks were eliminated in the second round by Chicago. In his first few seasons in the NHL, Edler was often paired with veteran blueliner and countryman Mattias Öhlund, who he considered a mentor for him (Öhlund left the Canucks to free agency in the 2009 off-season and signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning).
The following campaign, Edler improved to career-highs of 37 assists, first among team defensemen, and 42 points, second to Christian Ehrhoff. He missed six games near the midpoint of the campaign due to a left arm injury, sustained in December 2009. In the post-season, he added six points in 12 games as the Canucks lost again in the second round to the Blackhawks. Edler was injured in the sixth and deciding game of the series after opposing forward Dustin Byfuglien stepped on his right ankle after hitting him along the boards. Requiring a walking cast for five weeks, he rehabilitated his ankle during the off-season.
Recovering in time for the 2010–11 season, Edler continued to improve and was on pace to record new career-highs in goals, assists and points when he suffered a back injury in January 2011. Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis told reporters that Edler had been experiencing tightness in his back at several times in the season, but an open-ice hit against Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn during a game on 24 January might have contributed to his back problems. Edler underwent microdisectomy surgery to relieve pressure on a herniated disk and was sidelined for two-and-a-half months, returning for the second-last game of the regular season. Finishing the season with eight goals and 33 points over 51 games, he ranked second among team defencemen in scoring, behind Ehrhoff. His 24 minutes and 17 seconds of average ice time per game also led the Canucks. As the Canucks won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history, the team entered the 2011 playoffs with the first seed in the West. Eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, the Canucks advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 17 years. Facing the Boston Bruins, the team lost the series in seven games. Following their defeat, it was revealed that several Canucks players had been playing with injuries, including Edler, who played Game 7 with two broken fingers. He ranked second among Canucks defensemen and third in the League overall with 11 points (2 goals and 9 assists) in 25 games.
With the departure of Christian Ehrhoff, the Canucks' leading defensive scorer from the previous two seasons, to the Buffalo Sabres in the off-season, Edler assumed a larger role on the team's blueline in the 2011–12 season. By mid-January 2012, Edler was ranked fourth among NHL defenceman in scoring with seven goals and 24 points. That month, he was selected to his first NHL All-Star Game. He was selected to the competition alongside Canucks teammates Daniel and Henrik Sedin, as well as Cody Hodgson, who was named to the rookie squad. Playing for Team Alfredsson, Edler logged 21 minutes of ice time in a 12–9 loss to Team Chara. Edler finished the campaign having played all 82 games for the first time in his career. He recorded personal bests and team-highs among defensemen in all major statistical categories with 11 goals, 38 assists and 49 points. League-wide, he ranked seventh among defensemen in point-scoring. Out of eight attempts, his four shootout goals was first among NHL defensemen. His efforts helped the Canucks to a second consecutive Presidents' Trophy. Individually, he earned four fifth-place votes for the James Norris Memorial Trophy to rank 15th overall. Defending their Campbell Bowl as Western Conference champions from the previous year, the Canucks lost in the first round of the 2012 playoffs to the Los Angeles Kings. Edler recorded two goals in the five-game series.
On 18 January 2013, Edler signed a six-year, $30 million contract extension to remain with the Canucks. During the summer Edler was the talk of trade rumors at the trade deadline. The Red Wings were the team most interested in Edler and GM Mike Gills tried to move Edler before his NTC (No trade clause) went into effect on 1 July. In the end no deal was made and Edler stayed with the Canucks.
Eder made his first appearance for Sweden at the under-20 level, competing in the 2006 World Junior Championships in British Columbia. He notched his lone point of the tournament, an assist, in a 10–2 round-robin win against Latvia. Sweden went on to finish in fifth place, having lost their quarterfinal game to Finland. Two years later, Edler debuted with Sweden's men's team at the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Halifax and Quebec City. He scored his first international goal on the powerplay against French goaltender Fabrice Lhenry in a 9–0 round-robin win. Sweden went on to the bronze medal game, where they were defeated by Canada 5–4. Edler finished with a goal and two assists in eight games. His 19:02 minutes of average ice time per game ranked third among team defencemen.
Edler was responsible for a knee-on-knee hit to Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal in the quarterfinals of the 2013 IIHF World Championship, and was suspended for the final two games of the championship. Sweden went on to win the gold medal, and Edler was awarded a medal even though he did not play in the gold medal game. On 29 July 2013, the IIHF extended the suspension to cover Sweden's first two games of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Edler later joined team Sweden during the Olympics after his two-game suspension. He recorded a goal and two assists in the tournament, helping Sweden earn the silver medal.
Edler plays in the style of an offensive defenseman. One of his strongest offensive assets is his slapshot. At the Canucks' 2008 SuperSkills event, he beat the team's reigning hardest shooter, Sami Salo, with a 99.3 mile-per-hour shot and has gone on to win the competition in 2009 and 2010, as well. He is also known for his poise and confidence with the puck, allowing him to make strong first passes out of the defensive zone to forwards. Many within the Canucks organization, such as Assistant Coach Rick Bowness, have asserted this as a reflection of his calm off-ice demeanor.
Despite Edler's imposing physical characteristics, he was not known to be an aggressive defender early in his NHL career. However, he has gradually shown a capability for physicality and to hit opposing players hard. Looking back on his transition to North American hockey with the Kelowna Rockets, Edler noted the most difficult adjustment was the physical aspect of the game, which was more pronounced than in Sweden. During the Canucks' 2011 playoff run, teammate Kevin Bieksa compared him to Edler's former defensive partner, Mattias Öhlund, commenting, "He [Edler] was like Bambi when he first came into the league but now he realized how big and strong he is. When he hits guys, he hurts them."
Regular season and playoffs
|2003–04||Jämtlands HF||SWE Jr.||6||0||3||3||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|Manitoba Moose Rookie of the Year||2007|
|NHL YoungStars Game||2008|
|NHL All-Star Game||2012|
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