Updates from Tuesday, July 1
Ansar Khan of MLive.com has the latest on Ehrhoff:
They're no longer in the running for the left-handed shooting Christian Ehrhoff, who is seeking a five-year deal, two more years than the Red Wings are willing to give.
TSN's Bob McKenzie reports a deal is done:
NHL free-agency rumors are beginning to pick up steam surrounding former Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
Ehrhoff, who is set to turn 32 on July 6, heads into the free-agency period as an unrestricted free agent. According to CapGeek.com, Ehrhoff was set to enter the fourth season of a 10-year deal worth $40 million. However, John Vogl from The Buffalo News reported that the Sabres officially used a compliance buyout to make him a free agent.
General manager Tim Murray claimed it was an easy decision, per Vogl:
The fact that he quite frankly doesn’t want to be here makes it easy. I've said at the start that if you don’t want to be here we’ll make it happen. He’s made I believe $22 million in three years and feels that we’re not going in the right direction, but he really hasn’t had much part in the direction the team has gone. So time to move on.
Because of the compliance buyout, Ehrhoff is set to make two-thirds of the original contract over twice the amount of time, which means that he'll be making $12 million over the next 14 years, per CapGeek.com.
It wasn't the best season for Ehrhoff with the Sabres in 2013-14. In 79 games played, he had six goals and 27 assists, but his plus-minus of minus-27 was by far the worst of his career. He's played much better in the past, even setting the plus-minus franchise record for the Vancouver Canucks during the 2009-10 season at plus-36.
Now that he's a free agent, Jeremy White from WGR 550 in Buffalo believes that Ehrhoff is now the top available free agent on the market:
Christian Ehrhoff is immediately the most coveted available player in the NHL.— Jeremy White (@JeremyWGR) June 29, 2014
A number of teams will be trying to add Ehrhoff considering the weaker group of defensemen in this year's free-agent class. According to Ansar Khan from MLive.com, the Detroit Red Wings are one of the teams trying to acquire Ehrhoff:
The Red Wings inquired about Ehrhoff at this year's trade deadline, but the Buffalo Sabres hung onto him. Now teams don't need to part with any assets to acquire Ehrhoff after the Sabres used a compliance buyout on him.
The Red Wings' top priority is a top-four defenseman. They would prefer a right-handed shooter, but options are limited.
The Red Wings lack a lot of talent in the back, but adding Ehrhoff would provide a significant lift. While he's not going to be an enforcer on defense, he's a smooth skater that can make plays on offense. No other defenseman on the current Red Wings depth chart comes close to Ehrhoff's point production with the exception of Niklas Kronwall, who had eight goals and 41 assists last year.
If Ehrhoff does join the Red Wings, it could only mean good things for them. They went just 39-28-15 this past season, and they're looking to add some help as quickly as possible. With Ehrhoff, the team would have a much better chance of making it back to the Stanley Cup Final after falling in the conference quarterfinals or semifinals each of the past five straight seasons.
As David Pagnotta from The Fourth Period points out, however, there are likely going to be other teams making a push for Ehrhoff:
Teams like Detroit, Dallas, Colorado & Anaheim inquired about Ehrhoff prior to the trade deadline. I'm sure all 4 and more will inquire now— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 29, 2014
With the weak free-agency class of defensemen, Ehrhoff is going to be receiving more than a few phone calls starting on Tuesday.
While his career may be starting to come to an end, he'll be a valuable piece wherever he goes.