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Pens surprise, ink Ehrhoff to one-year, $4M deal

Jul 1, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT

Christian Ehrhoff Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins scored the first major coup of free agency on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on a one-year, $4 million deal.

The contract, first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, is a surprise on a number of fronts. One, it’s a short-term deal, a surprising move from the Ehrhoff camp considering he was arguably the top UFA d-man available and probably had his choice of suitors. Two, there hadn’t been many Pittsburgh ties to Ehrhoff after he was bought out of his 10-year, $40 million deal by Buffalo on Sunday.

“My first priority was to be on a good team,” Ehrhoff told TSN. “They have great players. I’m excited to play with [Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin].”

Ehrhoff added that he was “sad it didn’t work out in Buffalo,” but that he “wasn’t happy with the whole rebuild” that the Sabres started.

With the move, Pittsburgh now projects to ice a top-six defense of Ehrhoff, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Olli Maatta, Rob Scuderi and Roberto Bortuzzo/Simon Despres for next season.  It remains to be seen how touted d-man prospects Derrick Pouliot and Brian Dumoulin will fit into the mix, though they’ll likely be given a chance to compete for a gig in camp.

As for Ehrhoff, he will bring a further offensive flair to the blueline and possibly replace the production Matt Niskanen had in ’13-14. The German rearguard had 33 points in 79 games for the Sabres last season and is only a few years removed from the career-high 50 he put up with Vancouver in 2010-11.

  1. strictlythedanks - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:19 PM


    • lowenni - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      Agreed. I think this is a great signing for the Pens. Allows them to let Niskanen instead of having to overpay to keep his production around. If Ehrhoff is good for them, which I really think he will be, he’ll still have a few more good years left in him and can resign. I like a top-4 D of Letang-Martin Ehrhoff- Maatta for them. Real good signing IMO.

  2. valoisvipers - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    I like this a lot better than the Neal trade.

    • bobhpine - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      This does makes sense. Martin/Letang, Maata/Ehrhoff as a top four isn’t bad. Bortuzzo, Despres, Pouliot, Doumolin etc. as the bottom two and this could be a decent D corp.

      Getting Hornqvist and Spraling for Neal still makes me want to barf if for no other reason than the salary of Hornqvist (4.25M) vs. Neal’s ($5M).

  3. lordfletcher - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    great move for both club and player… He is going to be a UFA next year with cap going up and inflated numbers playing on Pitts, wow. great move all around

    I hate PITTS!!!!!

  4. killerpgh - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    I didn’t see that coming. Paul Martin getting traded?

    • JoeAvg - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      Nobody did. And yes – no other answer possible that I see. They have to clear the space.

  5. hockey412 - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Hopefully this means Martin is gone (I know…blasphemy). They already have too many kids on D not developing because they aren’t getting a shot. Save $1M on cap (Ehrhoff vs. Martin), trade Martin, go for the forward depth that they still need.

  6. sjsharks66 - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    If they ditch any defenseman to make room it should be Scuderi. He was horrible last year, when he was not hurt.

    • jaybaileys - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      you guys want him?

    • sfbookreviews - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      I like the signing, but it’s a bit odd unless another move is in the pipeline. The Piece is the obvious choice to go (as you mention), but who would take that contract? I think the Pens would happily trade him for a bag of pucks, but it’ll take a GM who is woozy on medication to move him.

      • jaybaileys - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        Well Rutherford is here and Feaster is gone, those are the only 2 who may have done a deal for Scuderi.

  7. milkmemalkin - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    He chose to play on a winning team in a fantastic city instead of Murder City (Detroit), can you blame him?

  8. skr213 - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Dear Pens Fans: have fun with this until you realize that Errorhoff is the least defensively responsible defenseman you’ve ever seen.

    • skr213 - Jul 1, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Thumbs down me all you want. You’ll see. Signed, a Sharks fan who watched him game in and game out for several seasons.

  9. micasa81 - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Good value in that signing for sure, but would the Pens not have been better off signing a more shutdown type D? Honest question. I just know from watching him in Vancouver that Ehrhoff is not what you’d call a shutdown guy.

  10. jtowme - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    I don’t mind this signing to replace Niskanen, but the Pens still need to address the lack of solid defensive D-men. I know the adage is the best defense is a great offense, but it’s rare that anybody wins the cup without a great defense.

    • hockey412 - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Agreed, and they already had Niskanen replaced on the third pairing. Actually they have about 5 third pairing guys. If they aren’t going to use them, don’t draft them. Draft offense. There has to be another move.

  11. otis4president - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    … or they are laying the groundwork to trade Letang…

    • hockey412 - Jul 1, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      not likely, after Niskanen walked. They want a right shot on D.

  12. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    So where are the wingers at? I like the signing but we still need wingers.

    • hockey412 - Jul 1, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      Kind of suprised not one outlet commented on keeping Stempniak. I thought he played well. With Dupuis coming back, the addition of Hornqvist and Spaling, if they could add one more, they’d be doing well.

      • c9castine - Jul 1, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        i liked stempniak too and feel he would come at the right price.

  13. penguins87and71 - Jul 1, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    I love this deal. I would trade Paul Martin for some forwards, and then buyout Rob Scuderri.

    • c9castine - Jul 1, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      buying out scuderi would only bring roster space, not cap space.

      that being said, i still support it. F him and that contract shero signed him to.

      • killerpgh - Jul 1, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Wrong. Buying out Scrudi would bring cap space. Just not the full hit would be removed. And it might be worth it. If they bought him out on July 20th the Penguins would almost 3 million of his 3.375 cap hit this year. Close to 2 million next year. And 1.5 million against the cap in the final year of his deal. Then he would cost the team a little over a million against the cap 2017-18 through 2019-20. The The Penguins would “save” (less cost of replacement player) cap space over the next 3 years and then take a cap hit 4-6 years from now.

      • c9castine - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:28 PM

        really? im skeptical. theres been a lot of confusion on this.

        also, rutherford said he doesnt plan on using any buyouts…but hes said a few things that havent actually happened.

      • chanceoffleury - Jul 1, 2014 at 8:52 PM

        I remember during the lockout thinking “If more GMs signed responsible deals like Shero does than we’d not even need this lockout! Stupid other teams for getting into overpriced contracts! The Pens won’t even need their buyouts!” Then literally within 6 months of the lockout ending Shero signed that Scuderi deal and like a month into the season I was like “There must be SOME way we can use one of those buyouts on any currently signed player, no?”

      • c9castine - Jul 1, 2014 at 11:30 PM

        yeah, my dad and i started thinking buyout on scuderi right around late november. it was obvious he isnt what he used to be and didnt seem to be improving depsite the fact that he said he knew he was playing like crap.

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