Now that defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is a free agent courtesy of a compliance buyout by the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray should look at adding the German-born to the team’s blue line.
Money, money, money…
First and foremost, the Sens are one of the few teams to not be affected drastically by the lowering of the National Hockey League’s salary cap. So far, according to CapGeek they have about $52 million invested into 21 players for the 2014-2015 season. Thus, with the cap now at $69 million, they still have roughly $17 million to invest in other assets. Of the Sens forwards that are currently free agents, two of the most sought after by the team is forward Milan Michalek and goaltender Robin Lehner. Last season, Michalek made $4.3 million and Lehner was paid $870,000. Let’s say the Sens re-signed the two for the amount they made in the 2013-2014 season. That leaves them about $11.7 million to sign Ehrhoff who has a cap hit of $4 million, which will decrease over the course of the final seven years of his 10 year contract.
Not to mention, now that Hemsky won’t be returning to the team – who would eat up $5 million towards the cap – the Sens have more than enough cash to bring on the former Sabre d-man.
SIGN CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF. FIND THE NECESSARY COUCH CUSHION CHANGE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. @senators
— Travis Yost (@travisyost) June 29, 2014
He’s still got it!
Money is only one thing, though. Can the defenseman still put up solid numbers at 31 years old? The answer is, “yes.” Don’t let last season be an indication of what Ehrhoff can do. Despite ending the campaign at minus-27, Ehrhoff still managed to pad six goals and 33 points in 79 games with the Sabres, who were the fifth worst in the league in goals against at 2.96. Aside from his rookie stint, Ehrhoff has never had below 20 points in an NHL season. As well, he racked up at least 40 points on three different occasions. Needless to say, he would be a solid producer on the back end and be a great weapon on the Sens’ power play, which finished 14th in the league at 18.4 per cent.
— EH Matt (@EhMatt19) June 29, 2014
Where could he fit into the lineup?
Ehrhoff would be an excellent addition to the Sens’ third defense pairing to provide depth. The DailyFaceoff has the team’s defensive pairs as follows: Marc Methot and Erik Karlsson; Patrick Wiercioch and Eric Gryba; and Chris Phillips and Cody Ceci. Wiercioch will not likely be sent down to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League to make room for Ehrhoff, but Ceci very well could. The young d-man played just over half of the NHL season last year and at only 20 years old, he has plenty of time to develop.
Of course, many teams will be bidding for Ehrhoff but he would most certainly fit best in Canada’s capital. Financially, the team can bring him on board and still remain under the salary cap. Plus, his numbers are consistent and productive for a defenseman. Ultimately, the addition of Ehrhoff would propel the Sens’ blue line into being one of the most dangerous and strongest back ends in the NHL.