The Swedish Connection
When asked what is Sweden famous for most people would agree Ikea, Meat Balls and Volvo cars. Very few would answer that question with the Pace Maker, invented by Rune Elmqvist in 1958 or the Safety Match, which was first patented in 1844 by Gustaf Erik Pasch. If your reading this on a flat screen monitor the technology used to make it was discovered in 1979 thanks to Sven Torbjörn Lagerwall, all three are from Sweden.
When compiling a list of Swedish born hockey players past and present who have graced the ice in a Canucks jersey, most people would include such names as Thomas Gradin, Mattias Ohlund, Markus Naslund, Mikael Samuelsson and of course the omnipresent Sedin twins.
Alex Edler may not be one of the first names considered for that list but maybe he should be. The 6′ 3″ 215lbs Defenseman is quietly making a difference for his team. Through twenty five games Edler has 2 goals 15 assists, his 17 points has him tied for third with Kesler and Samuelsson, he sits in third place for team assists, behind you guessed it the Sedin twins.
His assist and points total place him in tenth place in the NHL for a D-man. He plays an average of twenty-four minutes a game, that’s more than teammates Hamhuis Ehrhoff and even those twins. Most nights he is the best member of the Canuck defensive core.
If it wasn’t for a former Vancouver player Edler might not have set foot on an NHL rink. The Canucks drafted him in 2004 with the 91st pick. That year Edler was virtually unknown and was unranked by NHL Central Scouting Bureau.
Thomas Gradin is an erstwhile Canucks player and current Associate Head Scout for Vancouver. The Swedish scout saw Edler playing junior hockey for Jämtlands HF in Sweden’s third-tier hockey league, he was so impressed with the young D-man that he encouraged management to draft him.
After being chosen by Vancouver, Thomas Gradin had to pull a few strings to arrange a deal so Edler could play for Modo Hockey’s junior club of the J20 SuperElit, Naslund and the Sedins had previously been members of that club.
After a year with Modo, the Östersund native was selected by the Kelowna Rockets in the first round, 58th overall of the CHL import draft. In September 2005 after reporting to the Manitoba Moose he was sent back to the Rockets.
In his first and only WHL season he had 13 goals and 53 points in 63 games, that year he ranked fifth among WHL defensemen and fourth among rookies in scoring. He was part responsible for the Rockets playoff run where Kelowna reached the second round but was eliminated by the Everett Silvertips. During twelve playoff games Edler had eight points.
A year later the defenseman was awarded an entry-level contract by Vancouver, he then spent time playing with Canucks farm club the Manitoba Moose. During the 2007-2008 season the Swede eventually made the big club, where he registered 8 goals 12 assists 20 points in 75 games. Since then he has proven to be one of the best and most exciting current Canucks Defensemen.
He owes a lot to his Swedish compatriot Gradin, that’s why he chose to wear the same jersey number (23) in honor of the scout that discovered him.
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