Will Vancouver’s Edler and Tortorella make ‘swede’ music?

Edler’s potential realized under Torts?

Alex Edler is a guy who’s almost impossible to miss on the ice – for both bad and good reasons.

The flashes of brilliance from the Swedish rearguard are just that – brilliant. When he’s on, Edler is an effective puck distributer who delivers thunderous checks and has a nice offensive touch.

But when he’s bad – he’s terrible.

Questionable pinches, dumb penalties and boneheaded turnovers are what a lot of us remember about Edler from last year.

I still have nightmares about that Kevin Bieksa/Edler pairing from last year and I believe that was one of the biggest issues with Edler last year – Alain Vigneault just didn’t know how to use him properly.

Ideally, you want Edler paired up with someone like Dan Hamhuis or even Jason Garrison – responsible players defensively who can also pitch in with some points.

What Edler isn’t is a quarterback on the power play, another role completely miscast by Vigneault last season.

Enter new head coach John Tortorella

One of the most interesting quotes from Torts introductory press conference was when he stated that he wanted to draw more out of Edler. What exactly that means remains to be seen.

But looking at Tortorella’s track record, Edler could be one of the players who benefits the most from the new guy behind the bench.


Hopefully Alex Edler will shine under Torts. (Photo: Google)

Looking at Torts’ track record, one thing is apparent – the guy knows how to help develop defenseman. Did anyone hear of Dan Boyle before Torts gave him the chance to shine?

Boyle was a peripheral player in Florida for a few years before joining the Lightning in 2001-02. He had a decent first year in Tampa with Torts behind the bench but that second year he blew up.

The Lightning went on to win the Stanley Cup a few years later and Boyle emerged as a consistent point threat every year and one of the most talented offensive defenseman in the game.

Boyle had a career high 63 points under Torts back in 2006-07 and rode that momentum to become a key player on Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics.

Tortorella’s success in developing d-men followed him in the Big Apple

Dan Girardi became a household name under his watch, becoming one of the game’s best shot blockers and being a positive plus/minus player with Torts behind the bench.

Michael Del Zotto is another rearguard who came out of nowhere to become a solid player offensively with 37 points as a 19 year old rookie and 41 points in 2011-12.

Another example of Torts giving a young defenseman the chance to succeed is Ryan McDonagh.

Again, he’s another player that has flourished offensively under Tortorella and is also recognized as one of the game’s best shot blockers.

So how will this impact Vancouver?

Now, the only difference is that what you see might be what you get with Edler.

He’s 27, not in his early 20s like the other players I mentioned, but he’s spent his whole career at the pro level under Vigneault.

A new voice might be exactly what Edler needs – especially one with as much experience developing d-men as Tortorella.

And as much as Torts can possibly mould Edler into something great, it’s also up to the player. The Canucks need that elite defenseman and Edler is the only guy on the team with potential to be that number one guy.

The bottom line is Edler’s development should be one of the highest priorities for Torts and the Canucks.

For better or worse, he’s locked up for the next six years with a no trade clause – the Canucks, Torts and Edler are married for the foreseeable future.

And there’s no Dr. Phil to make this marriage work – it’s mostly up to a temperamental Italian-American with a vocabulary full of four letter words.

It’s going to either work really well or be a disaster. Either way it should be fun to watch.


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About Ben Lypka

Straight outta South Central Delta, BC, Ben's been a sports nut for as long as he can remember. With experience covering the Olympic Games and reporting on sporting events in BC and Alberta, he hopes to bring a unique perspective to the NWSB! You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Ben today!
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  • NYRfan

    I can’t comment on Boyle, but Girardi was Girardi before Torts got to NY. I definitely wouldn’t attribute Tortorella with the offensive success for anyone on the team. MDZ’s offense was held back to make sure he was better defensively. If you’re going to praise him for work he did with defensemen then you should look towards that side… making D-men positionally better defensively before even thinking about offense.

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