The Los Angeles Kings have made a significant move to bolster their defense by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5-million contract with experienced defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, according to various reports.
Ehrhoff, a 33-year-old lefthanded shooter, totaled three goals and 14 points in 49 games with Pittsburgh in 2014-15 after signing a one-year, $4M contract with the Penguins the previous off-season. Having signed the defenseman to a 10-year, $40-million contract in late June, 2011, Buffalo used a compliance buyout on Ehrhoff’s contract after three seasons as the Sabres hoped to avoid potential cap recapture penalties in the chance that he’d retire before the end of its lengthy duration.
In 741 career games with San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Ehrhoff has 72 goals, 327 points and a plus-59 rating. He has three 30-point season, two 40-point seasons, and a 2010-11 season in which he totaled 14 goals, 50 points and 209 shots on goal in 79 games and came within one win of the Stanley Cup. In 73 career playoff games with the Sharks and Canucks, Ehrhoff has seven goals, 34 points and a minus-12 rating.
Though Ehrhoff dealt with injuries and saw his season ended by a concussion in 2014-15 – he missed 33 of the team’s final 39 games but was given a “clean bill of health” in May – the signing of the mobile defenseman armed with a powerful shot could serve as one of the better bargains during an off-season in which NHL teams largely exhibited fiscal restraint, should he remain healthy in a Kings uniform. Capable of weathering heavy all-purpose minutes, Ehrhoff saw 21:46 of ice time per game last season – his lowest average since 2008-09, when he was a Shark. He’s versatile and has experience on the right side, which would serve as insurance should Slava Voyov’s situation remain unsettled, or should he not be reinstated. (Voynov remains suspended by both the NHL and the Kings.)
With Ehrhoff’s signing, the Kings have approximately $67.43M allotted to 23 players, figures that include contracts for Nick Shore ($600K), Jordan Weal ($633K), Andy Andreoff ($588K) and Jeff Schultz ($850K), and Mike Richards’ cap recapture ($1.32M), but do not include contracts for Slava Voynov ($4.17M), Jamie McBain ($600K), Brian O’Neill ($563K) or Derek Forbort ($863K). Next year’s salary cap has been set at $71.4M; teams may have up to 23 players on their active roster.
LAKI will have more on Ehrhoff in the coming days. For now, here’s Pensburgh’s Ehrhoff Season in Review, which lists his advanced stats.