Alex Edler didn’t have to talk about his future Sunday.
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Canucks defenceman Alex Edler practised Sunday, but has not been medically cleared to face Ducks on MondayAlex Edler practised Sunday, but hasn’t been medically cleared to play Monday after suffering a horrific concussion Feb. 4 in Philadelphia.As per club protocol with players on injured reserve, it meant its biggest trade-deadline chip didn’t have to talk about rumours or the state of his contract-extension negotiations with the Vancouver Canucks as a pending unrestricted free agent.A no-trade or no-movement clause in a new deal would pry away a protection spot for the Seattle expansion draft, so there are hurdles to clear on a palatable agreement.Edler also didn’t have to publicly ponder Sunday what may or may not play out before the deadline ends Monday at noon (Pacific) but the franchise’s longest-serving defenceman has always praised a place that has become home.“I like it here and I’ve been treated well and I like the city,” the 32-year-old Edler said in addressing his expiring deal that has as annual $5 million US salary cap hit. “I have a lot more to give and as long as the body is feeling good, I want to keep playing as long as I can.”Unless something dramatic occurs on the Edler front that would force general manager Jim Benning to alter his deadline preference — like a player-for-player swap similar to the Ryan Spooner acquisition that wouldn’t cost a draft pick and has term beyond this season — don’t expect much out of the Canucks on Monday.There’s always the chance Benning could get a deal he can’t refuse for Edler, which would force him to then approach the Swedish defenceman to waive his no-trade clause. But it’s expected to be a quiet deadline.That’s because Edler was having a renaissance season and is looked upon as a “culture carrier” by management on and off the ice.He vowed to take on a bigger leadership role with the retirement of countrymen Henrik and Daniel Sedin. He overcame an Oct. 24 knee sprain in which he missed 15 games and he’ll miss his 10th game Monday after his stick was got caught in the skate blade of Flyers forward Jakob Voracek. Edler lost consciousness after awkwardly twisting and hitting the ice with his face and had to be taken off on the ice on a stretcher, but didn’t suffer any fractures.Edler remains first in club average ice time (23:24), second in blocked shots (190) and fourth in hits (80) in his 38 games. Signing him is a priority, but Benning has other pressing problems. Bo Horvat needs a proven scoring winger. The defence needs somebody capable of playing in the top four and Benning needs to either re-sign or jettison restricted free agents Nikolay Goldobin and Derrick Pouliot. As for the other RFAs, Tyler Motte and Josh Leivo have made favourable impressions, Ben Hutton deserves an extension and Brock Boeser is heading for a big pay day.“If we had another goal scorer that would be a big help to our group, but that’s easier said than done,” Benning told Postmedia last week. “I’m not necessarily looking at rentals. If we’re going to do trades, it’s going to be players who can be pieces of the puzzle moving forward.”If the Canucks were in a different position — solidly above the playoff bar and not in a pack trying to squeeze into the last post-season position — they could go the costly rental route. But they would have to part with a high pick, a bad strategy with the Canucks hosting the 2019 draft, to make a concerted push. Anaheim Ducks right winger Jakob Silfverberg is a UFA with 16 goals and has presence in a shutdown role. He’s on an expiring $3.75 million contract and would command a pick at the deadline before a sizable raise if he hits the open market July 1. However, he has reportedly agreed to a five-year extension with the Ducks that can’t be announced until after the trade deadline because of salary-cap implications.A rental player for the Canucks might be the case in a year, but not now. Not with the club facing a five-point deficit (six if you count tie-breakers) before Sunday’s games and needing to leapfrog four Western Conference clubs just to claim the last wild-card spot.Real change could come in the summer.The Canucks could package players to go after a defenceman. The arrival of the super-skilled Quinn Hughes next month, once he leaves the University of Michigan and signs a contract, will add a lighting-quick transition element the Canucks don’t possess and a power-play quarterback they desperately need.But he’ll be just one piece of a puzzle that doesn’t quite fit. Plus there is the uncertainty surrounding Olli Juolevi and whether he will need more time with the Utica Comets after recovering from season-ending knee surgery in December.Chris Tanev plays through considerable and ongoing pain and the club has to hope his latest injury isn’t a high-ankle ailment that can take much longer to heal. Troy Stecher and Hutton are logging major minutes in the absence of Edler and Tanev and that’s going take a toll on a three-game road trip that opens Wednesday in Colorado before stops Thursday in Arizona and Sunday in Las Vegas.In the interim, if the recalled Ashton Sautner can continue to develop along with minor-leaguers Guillaume Brisebois, Evan McEneny and Jalen Chatfield, patience may pay off.As for getting Horvat help, the Canucks may have to go shopping in the UFA aisle July 1 and that’s not always the perfect firstname.lastname@example.org/@benkuzmaNEXT GAMEMondayAnaheim Ducks at Vancouver Canucks7 p.m., Rogers Arena, TV: Sportsnet Pacific; Radio: Sportsnet 650 AMCLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com