Only weeks removed from a trip to the YoungStars game in Atlanta, sitting atop the leaderboard among rookies with a plus-14, and coming off a then career high three point effort (2-1-3), Alexander Edler
found himself in the glare of a very bright spotlight last February.
“Last year was a good year,” says Edler. “Coming into this season there was a little bit more pressure to have a better season.”
Despite the pressure, the unflappable D-man has continued to build on last season’s success but it wasn’t without some help.
“Mattias has been a lot of help for me,” says Edler. “I’m so happy he was here on the team when I came here. He’s been in the same situation, like when he was young and came into the League, so it’s really easy to ask him questions and talk to him because he knows how everything is.”
Though both took separate paths to the NHL, the two Swedes share a lot of similarities in their early development. Ohlund and Edler both finished in the upper echelons of the League in scoring among rookie defencemen.
And the pair also joined the Swedish Men’s National hockey team within their first year in the League - Ohlund for the 1998 Olympics and Edler for the 2008 World Championships. An experience Edler reflected on fondly.
“I got a chance to play the World Championship last year and it was a lot of fun,” Edler says.
The experience helped him develop his play on a new stage and also make friends with a few familiar foes.
“I was rooming with Robert Nilsson from Edmonton so I got to know him a little bit. And a couple more guys. It was fun to get to know them and get to play with your own country... If I get the chance to play for the national team again, for sure, I’ll go,” Edler says.
Projected as a Swedish blueliner in 2010 by some hockey analysts, Edler just may get the call, especially if he continues to build on an already impressive NHL career.
Avoiding any form of the sophomore slump, Edler has already eclipsed his point totals from last year. His 27 points (6-21-27) have him tied for 30th among all defencemen in the League and second among Canucks D-men. For the 6’3” blueliner, the point totals are just what the doctor ordered.
“Better stats: You always want that. The main thing is just to take another step - to have a better season than last year. To become a better player,” Edler says.
If his improved stats are any indication, he’s done just that. Seeing time on the power play as well as the penalty kill, Edler is third on the team in ice time this season. The youngest Canucks blueliner has emerged into an invaluable piece of the defence corps.
And while his plus-7 rating shows he can contribute on the right side of the plus/minus ledger, a more telling stat coincides with his point production. Vancouver is 15-4-2 when the Ostersund native records a point.
Edler’s used his booming shot to help edge the Canucks closer to his ultimate goal, a berth in the postseason.
“The first goal is to make the playoffs and the next goal from playoffs is to win the whole thing,” Edler says.
And while February is a far cry from June, if the Swede has any say in the matter the Canucks will be in the mix deep into the spring.
The spotlight may have dimmed as Edler quietly puts together another successful campaign but he’ll take it. With new career highs, including a recent four-point game (1-3-4) under his belt, paired with a will to win, the future looks bright. With or without the spotlight.