On Thursday night, I tweeted the list of under-30 defensemen, who are set to become unrestricted free agents next summer. It was a short tweet, because it only included three names - Tobias Enstrom, Ian White, and Alexander Edler. I hope Anton Babchuk can forgive me. I only involved players that people actually care about.
Since then, that list has become even shorter. Tobias Enstrom and the Jets reached a five-year extension, worth $28.75 million (a cap hit of $5.75 million per season). This is a relevant news item for Canucks fans, because it can be used a ballpark estimate for what Edler will be receiving once he decides to sign on the dotted line.
How exactly do the two stack up against each other, though?
On the surface, the two are remarkably similar. Edler is a 26-year old Swede, who in the last three seasons has put up 124 points in 209 games, while being good for 24 minutes per night. Enstrom, is a 27-year old Swede who has accrued 134 points in 221 games (during that same time span), while logging roughly 24 minutes of ice-time.
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You can see why one would be linked to the other. On a deeper level though - and I'll preface this by saying that I haven't watched nearly as much of Enstrom as I have of Edler - the Jets' defensemen is of a higher caliber in his own zone, with the drawback being that he doesn't possess quite the offensive upside of Edler.
I decided to take a deeper look in an attempt to compare the two, by matching up their underlying numbers.
Note: the following data can be found at 'Behind the Net'. For the uninitiated, it's where the #fancystats community spends its Friday and Saturday nights.
The offensive zone start, and finish, percentages are straightforward. Corsi is the shot-differential - it takes into account goals, saves, missed shots, and shots that were blocked. Let's just say that Edler's agent probably won't be referencing the graph above during his negotiations. But it does support what the eyes have told us.
Corsi actually ties into one of my personal favourite theories regarding the game of hockey. Here it goes - in the long run, by putting the puck towards the net at a larger volume, the more likely you are to score a goal. And if you increase the odds that you score a goal, chances are, you'll wind up scoring more goals. What happens if you score more goals than your opponent? You win! For some reason this theory isn't universally accepted yet.
Jeff Angus (of Canucks Army) recently took a detailed look at what defensemen that have accomplished what Edler has wound up signing for. Assuming you understand what he is - and probably more importantly, what he isn't - and are okay with it, you'd like to see Edler re-up this summer.
With the uncertainty surrounding the CBA looming, it's more than reasonable to assume that Edler would have to strongly consider taking the extra years (think double digits), while keeping the cap hit at a more digestible amount (think between 4.5 and 5). Something along the lines of 11 years, $52 million could be an attractive option for both parties.
If those numbers make you uneasy, it's totally understandable. Alexander Edler will never be confused with Nicklas Lidstrom, as a model of consistency. At the same time, he's a very good hockey player, who still hasn't even reached his physical prime. There's a steep price to be paid for players of his skill level, and if he hits the open mark on July 1st, 2013, the ship for getting his services at a reasonable price will have long since sailed.