Updates from Wednesday, July 2
Christian Ehrhoff spoke to the media about his decision to sign with Pittsburgh on Wednesday (via Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Penguins):
Ehrhoff: "I'm just excited to be on a contender and I will work really hard for my minutes and try to earn them."— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) July 2, 2014
Ehrhoff: "I'm really excited to be on a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup."— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) July 2, 2014
Christian Ehrhoff (@TheRealHoff10): “I had a few other offers, but when Pittsburgh came up, it was really my preference."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 2, 2014
Ehrhoff: "It wasn't a selling point for me" that fellow Germans Marcel Goc and Thomas Greiss are with Penguins.— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) July 2, 2014
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended last season in a state of flux after bowing out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leading to sweeping changes in the front office and coaching staff. Now the team has made its first major signing of the offseason.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Penguins and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff came to terms on a contract for the 2014-15 NHL season:
The Penguins later confirmed the deal on the team website.
Ehrhoff later spoke about his move to Pittsburgh (via the Penguins):
Christian Ehrhoff: "I am excited to play with Crosby and Malkin. Hopefully that can take me to my ultimate goal which is winning the Cup."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 1, 2014
Christian Ehrhoff: “My first priority was to be on a good team… they [the Pens] were right there from the start.”— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 1, 2014
The Penguins wasted little time jumping on Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the remaining seven years and $18 million on a 10-year contract he signed with the Buffalo Sabres prior to the 2011 season on Sunday.
Ehrhoff's salary with the Penguins is equal to what he would have been paid by the Sabres. John Vogl of The Buffalo News reported that Buffalo's general manager wanted to get rid of Ehrhoff for months, while also adding that his performance also played a role in the decision:
Tim Murray says he has contemplated buying Ehrhoff out from the moment the Sabres hired the GM. Ehrhoff's contract is a major factor.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) June 29, 2014
But frankly, Tim Murray says, Christian Ehrhoff's desire to not be part of the Sabres and defenseman's inability to improve team are huge.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) June 29, 2014
The 31-year-old Ehrhoff is known more for his offensive proficiency than playing defense. The Penguins were already one of the top scoring teams in the league, finishing second in the Eastern Conference with 249 goals last year.
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Ehrhoff had 33 points last year but provided a career-worst minus-27 plus-minus rating.
Pittsburgh was also solid on the defensive end with 204 goals allowed during the regular season, though the New York Rangers did expose some holes in the final three games of the Eastern Conference semifinal series with 10 goals.
The Penguins are still very much in win-now mode. Sidney Crosby is coming off his second MVP award, and the team was one win away from the Eastern Conference Final. They need to make upgrades to keep up with power teams like Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles throughout the league.
Ehrhoff isn't a game-changing piece for a franchise, but has played at a high level in the past and still has some solid years left ahead of him. The Penguins are betting on him returning to prime form this season to push them over the hump.