Edler's the real deal

BARRY MACDONALD, 24 HOURS VANCOUVER

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

I would like a dollar for every call we have taken on the highly acclaimed Team 1040 morning show, rueing the draft history of the Vancouver Canucks.

"Line 1, Pete in Nakusp. Go ahead." "Yeah, uh, why didn't the Canucks draft Bobby Orr?" "Uh, Pete, Vancouver wasn't in the NHL yet. Let's try Bob in Whonnock. Go ahead, Bob." "Yeah, hello. Why didn't Nonis give up a first (AND for emphasis, as if to sweeten the deal) to Washington for Ovechkin?"

You catch my drift, I am sure, unless of course you are Bob in Whonnock or Pete in Nakusp. Drafting players, in any sport, is not an exact science. If the Canucks have missed out on a player, chances are 29 other teams have as well.

Which bring us to Alex Edler, who earlier this week was signed to a four-year contract extension, on the eve of his 100th NHL game. He will get $13 million over those four years, starting with the 2009-2010 season. 90 players were drafted ahead of Edler back in 2004; one named Ovechkin, another named Malkin, and 27 defencemen. That's right: 27 D-men were selected ahead of Alex Edler, whom Tom Larschied suggested will someday be considered the greatest D-man in Canuck history.

Pretty heady stuff for the kid from Ostersund, Sweden. Of those 27 blueliners taken ahead of him, only four have played more games at the NHL level. And with all due respect to Ladislav Smid, Andrej Meszaros and Jeff Schultz, the only one I would take now ahead of Edler is Mike Green, who impressed in Washington's dismantling of the Canucks three nights ago.

I remember watching Edler's first NHL game, while thinking about what Pat Quinn always used to say about defencemen. Maybe it was Quinn's way of protecting his young rearguards, but he was always quick to point out that it takes longer for a defencemen to develop at the NHL level than it does a forward. As I watched Edler that night, I remember one thing very clearly. He was cooler than the other side of the pillow. Nothing seemed to ruffle him. It was as if he had missed his flight from Winnipeg and was still with the Moose.

100 games later, he is a wily veteran, with another four years on his contract and the $13 million that goes with it. Quite possibly the best 91st overall pick in NHL history.


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