While there is no way of knowing until we see them together, Garrison and Edler could be a defensive pairing that could possibly usurp Hamuis and Bieksa as the top pairing. However this relies on Edler leaving his inconsistent play behind him.
The following is an excerpt from an article written on May 26th, 2011 by Jim Jamieson:
"What happened to Alex Edler?
The big defenceman might not be quite up there for playoff under-achievement with Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who seemed incapable of making even a routine save at some points of the Penguins' opening-round series with Philadelphia. But Edler's gaffes in the Canucks' playoff series with the Kings were killers and he was one of the team's difference-makers who failed to do that with the season on the line.
Yes, Edler had his best season from a points-production perspective – 49 points (11-38), tying him for sixth in the NHL amongst defencemen. Yes, his regular season, which was punctuated by his first participation in the NHL All-Star Game, likely had him in some conversations for the Norris Trophy.
But his play down the stretch was characterized by disturbing inconsistency. At one point in mid-March, after Edler was partially responsible for all four Montreal goals in an embarrassing 4-1 loss at Rogers Arena, head coach Alain Vigneault said: “I don't know where he is right now.”
The playoffs? In Game 1, Edler coughed up the puck in his own zone late in the game and the resulting Kings goal stood up as the winner. In Game 2, his drop pass on the power play was intercepted by Kings' Anze Kopitar and resulted in Dustin Brown's first of two shorthanded goals. Late in Game 3, with his team trailing 1-0 and pressing for the equalizer, he fired the puck over the glass to take a delay of game minor.
Not that Edler's overall play was poor – it wasn't – but the moments he chose to come unglued had a major impact on his team.
How 2011-12 went: If you look at Edler's numbers (11-38-49), what's not to like?
His career-best points total was tied (with Shea Weber) for sixth amongst NHL defencemen.
He was also tied at sixth with Weber for power-play points (22).
Edler was fourth in the league in shots by a defenceman (228) and led the Canucks in blocked shots (145). A regular on both special teams, Edler's ice-time of 23:51 per game led the Canucks and ranked him 16th in the league amongst D-men.
A search for a different partner down the stretch was a curiosity. After the March debacle against Montreal, the coaching staff opted to split up the season-long partnership of Edler and Sami Salo. A pairing with Kevin Bieksa made some sense on paper but didn't work in action. After the disastrous team showing in Game 1, Edler and Salo were back together.
What the future brings: The Canucks have to decide whether Edler's struggles down the stretch and nightmarish playoff was just a one-off or needs to be addressed in some way.
Is he struggling under the weighty expectations of finally growing in to that No. 1 defenceman the team desperately needs?
Do they need to bring in an experienced top-four D-man that Edler can play with and, more importantly, play off?
Might the Canucks decide that Edler is a piece they'll have to include in a deal for a true No. 1 defenceman?
Contract status: The other aspect of Edler's future, which may play into the previous point, is that he is entering the the final year of a deal that pays him $3.25 million annually, after which he would become an unrestricted free agent. That also means the team can begin the process of re-signing him anytime after July 1.
Team options: Edler will certainly be seeking a healthy increase on his current salary, an increase that would make him the team's highest-paid D-man over a significant term. The Canucks have to decide whether Edler has the remaining up-side to justify such an investment. He's a tantalizing package of size, power and skill, but can he bring it consistently?
-- His career-best points total (11-38-49) was tied (with Shea Weber) for sixth amongst NHL defencemen.
-- He was also tied at sixth with Weber for power-play points (22).
-- He was fourth in the league in shots by a defenceman (228).
-- He led the Canucks in blocked shots (145).
Read more: http://www.theprovin...l#ixzz26BtOlfFB"
If Alex Edler can play to or near his potential every game vs. disappearing in some games, there is real hope for the Canucks defense to take the next step into being one of the leagues best.
Neither Ehrhoff or Salo were the shutdown, physical defensman that Vancouver needed. Sami Salo was a great Canuck, no doubt, as his contributions in the offensive zone were essential to playoff success for the Canucks. His two goals in less than two minutes against San Jose are the stuff of legend. However, Sami never quite cut it as a physical defensman (except if your Brad Marchand who felt Sami to be a threat to his life.....what a rat). Garrison brings a much needed physicality to the blueline.
He just had too much pressure on him. During the playoffs in 2011, Ehrhoff and Salo were both really healthy, reducing the pressure of the big three..Hamhuis, Bieksa, and Edler.
Having a consistent partner like Garrison is gonna do wonders.
Also, if Tanev emerges to be a top four calibre defensemen, we'll be in real good shape. He was getting 20+ minutes in that last little stretch and the canucks were doing real well.
The Lockout should help Tanev. It ll give him some more time to develop and perhaps round out his game in the minors.