Keeping It Teal: Why Christian Ehrhoff's Days as a San Jose Shark Are Numbered
When the San Jose Sharks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season, the entire fan base was expecting a major tweak to the roster.
However, so far during the offseason, the majority of moves have been letting minor role players walk, signing new ones, and deciding that Patrick Marleau will no longer be captain.
Now to be fair, blowing up the roster would be a critical error in judgment by Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, and to his credit, he has kept the core group intact.
But on the same note, it is now August and nothing significantly has changed. And to borrow a line from my fellow Sharks community leader MJ Kasprzak's question at this year's State of the Sharks, "I go back to Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
The Sharks may just be insane to think that keeping the entire core together is the way to go after continued playoff failures.
But the "core" of the team is not limited to the big three of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Evgeni Nabokov. The core also includes Dan Boyle, Joe Pavelski, Milan Michalek, Devin Setoguchi, Ryane Clowe and Christian Ehrhoff.
One could argue that Rob Blake is a part of the core, but due to his age, it is appropriate to leave him out of the main core of this years Sharks team.
The true Sharks core involves the top six forwards, top two defenseman who aren't on the cusp of retirement, and the starting goaltender. And if all nine members of that core return this season, then Shark fans shouldn't expect much change in their fortunes.
However, the one marquee signing Wilson has made this season was thought to be a precursor to a bigger move. When the Sharks re-signed veteran defenseman Kent Huskins to a two-year deal, it appeared to many to mean the end of Christian Ehrhoff's tenure in San Jose.
But so far this offseason, Ehrhoff is still a member of the Sharks, and the fact he has yet to be shipped out of town makes fans like myself nervous that he might remain a Shark for the upcoming season.
Fortunately for Sharks fans, Wilson has a history of letting issues play themselves out and making his moves after he has thoroughly done his research.
Therefore, with both center Torrey Mitchell and winger Brad Staubitz still needing new contracts, and with the Sharks up against the cap, it is safe to say that Ehrhoff's days in teal are still numbered.
The Sharks defenseman has been a mainstay on the blue-line for quite some time now, as Ehrhoff has been a top-six quality defenseman since his rookie year in 2003-04. And in the last three seasons, Ehrhoff has easily been a top-four defenseman and an important part of the power play. In the last three years, Ehrhoff has registered 48 power play points.
However, Ehrhoff is owed $6.2 million over the next two seasons. And with the Sharks in need of signing the aforementioned two top-12 quality forwards, as well as being able to afford depth players, Ehrhoff appears to be the odd man out.
Essentially, unless Marleau waives his no-trade clause, the only way the Sharks can improve their roster and increase cap room without diminishing their talent level is by trading Ehrhoff.
Even if all that comes in return is draft picks, the trade has to happen, purely as a salary dump.
Despite the fact that Ehrhoff put up career point totals last season with 42, he just does not have a signature play that has endeared himself to Sharks fans. And his negative 12 plus/minus last season doesn't help his cause.
But getting rid of his contract would enable the Sharks to resign two players in Mitchell and Staubitz, who already have signature plays in teal.
Although Ehrhoff has cashed in a couple of memorable overtime-winning goals, his incessant knack for shooting the puck a mile wide, and his constant turnovers, will be what fans remember most.
Combine that with Ehrhoff's innability to knock opposing players off the puck, and his value to the Sharks is extremely dimished. His rather lack of physicality made for his defensive partner Douglas Murray having to do the overwhelming amount of the workload defensively.
With the Sharks now having six capable defenseman without Ehrhoff, it should only be a matter of time before he is no longer with the club.
His departure, when it finally happens, will be twofold. The Sharks will then have the money to get Mitchell and Staubitz the deals they deserve, and Ehrhoff's departure will be the major move fans have been looking for all offseason.
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