In the summer of 2009, The Vancouver Canucks pulled off one of their most underrated trades in franchise history. The team acquired Chrisitan Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi. Although his time with the Canucks was brief, the German-born defenceman made a lasting impact and played a key role in the Stanley Cup run of 2011.
The Perfect Replacement for Mattias Öhlund
During the free agency period of 2009, Mattias Öhlund signed a seven-year, $25.250 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. This left a significant hole on the left-hand side that needed to be filled by a defenceman who could not only play big minutes every night but be a staple on the penalty kill and power play. Ehrhoff filled that void perfectly during his two seasons as a Canuck.
Ehrhoff led the Canucks defense in scoring during the regular season in both his season with the club. In total, he put up 94 points in 159 regular-season games, with 51 of those points coming on the power play. In 35 playoff games, he managed 19 points which rank ninth in franchise history. He also was in the top-10 in Norris Trophy voting both seasons he was in Vancouver. Although he hasn’t suited up for the Canucks in over a decade, he is still ranked in the top-10 in franchise history amongst defencemen in regular-season plus-minus, game-winning goals and points per game.
Ehrhoff completely changed the Canucks power play when he arrived in Vancouver. His ability to get pucks on the net and join the rush made the Canucks power play one of the most dynamic in the league. Over the two seasons he was with Vancouver, the Canucks had the league’s best power play operating at 22.4% and had a league-high 140 goals. From the drop pass to the Sedin cycle, he could read the play so well and was the missing piece the Canucks needed to take their power play to the next level.
2011 Run to The Stanley Cup Final
For the first three rounds of the 2011 playoffs, Ehrhoff led the defense with 11 points in 16 games. He was averaging over 24 minutes a game and was a killer on the power play. Unfortunately, like most of the team, he lost his scoring touch in the Stanley Cup Final, finishing with one point in seven games. Game 7 was the last game he played for Vancouver as he was an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and was on the verge of signing one of the longest deals in NHL history.
Life After Vancouver
After his rights were traded to the Islanders at the draft, Ehrhoff decided to sign with the Buffalo Sabres. The deal was for 10 years and $40 million total. During his time in Buffalo, he was a mentor and defense partner to current Canuck Tyler Myers. After three seasons of mediocre play, he was bought out and signed with the Penguins.
From there, he made stops with the Kings and Blackhawks before moving back to Germany to finish up his career with Kölner Haie of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Despite being retired, he still earns $857,143 per year from the Sabres buyout and will continue to be paid until the 2027-28 season.
Overall, Ehrhoff had a successful career finishing with 340 points in 789 games. As for Germans who have played in the NHL, he ranks fourth in all-time regular-season points and first amongst defencemen. He also represented his country over 100 times and attended four Olympic Games and seven World Championships.
Ehrhoff Deserves to Be Celebrated
Since he was not around for a long time, it seems Canuck fans forget just how dynamic and important Ehrhoff was to this franchise. He scored the winning goal that clinched the franchise’s first-ever President’s Trophy in 2010-11, as well as the OT winner in what was his final regular-season game with the Canucks. Looking back, Canuck fans should be thankful Mike Gillis was able to pull off this trade as it should go down as one of the biggest steals in franchise history.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.