VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler isn’t usually happy to see a media horde waiting around his locker.
Saturday was an exception.
The soft-spoken Swede was all smiles after signing a six-year, $30 million contract extension that was announced by the team Friday night.
"I slept very good," Edler said with a grin after leading the team’s morning stretch to a chorus of stick-tap applause. "For me personally I wanted to stay here and I got a great deal. This is more money than I could ever dream of so I am very happy with the deal and that I could stay here."
For Edler, avoiding extra media attention was a factor in signing now.
"Yeah, that’s what we talked about and we wanted to get it done before the season started," Elder said.
Edler’s smiles were a stark contrast to the Anaheim Ducks locker room, where next summer's free-agent status of top-two forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry already threatens to become a constant storyline.
"It's going to be tough the rest of the season until something gets done, or if it doesn't get done, to wait," said Perry, the Hart Trophy winner two seasons ago. "It's going to be talked about the whole time, but I'm not thinking about it."
Perry and Getzlaf have hinted they won’t talk about it either, at least not after this season-opening road trip that ends Monday at the Calgary Flames.
"It's going to be over and done with after this, I'm not going to talk about it anymore," Perry said. "We'll just see what happens going forward."
Given their status as two of the top offensive forwards in the game -- Perry has scored 87 goals the past two seasons, including 50 and 98 points in his MVP year; Getzlaf is coming off a career-low 57-point season but averaged almost 80 in the four years prior -- the Ducks’ duo would be in high demand next summer.
So would have Edler.
Playing in the final year of a four-year contract worth $3.25 million a season, and coming off a career-high 49 points in 2011-12, Edler almost certainly could have commanded more on the open market than he got from the Canucks. He is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound defender capable of big hits and even harder shots -- he topped 100 mph several times to win the team's hardest-shot competition -- but his new deal is not without risks.
The 26-year-old experienced back problems the past two seasons, including surgery for a bulging disc in 2010-11 that kept him out almost three months, and aggravated it in the offseason. He was under team care -- therefore not locked out -- until mid-December. Consistency also has been an issue for Edler, who is capable of dominating a game physically but prone to periods of passive play and costly errors, including struggling during last year's five-game Stanley Cup Playoffs loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
"I think he's still got more to give and he can still grow," coach Alain Vigneault said after Saturday’s morning skate. "I think he can be one of the best defensemen in the League, and we’ll see if we’re right on that call."
Edler, whose new contract could create a salary-cap crunch next season in Vancouver, said he doesn’t feel any extra pressure from the new deal. He’s been asked plenty of times about growing into a true No. 1 defenseman.
"I don’t think it changes anything," Edler said. "The pressure is always very high here from the outside. And in the dressing room and from myself, it's going to be the same, and I always want to get better every year."