I’m no detective, but it would appear contract negotiations between the Vancouver Canucks and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff aren’t going so well. My first clue? After Ehrhoff flatly rejected a similar offer to the five year, $4.6 million deal Kevin Bieksa agreed to the day prior, the Canucks traded him to the New York Islanders.

This seems like a step backwards.

Granted, this could just be a brief complication, like the ones that couples in romantic comedies face just before they finally end up together. Maybe, like, Ehrhoff discovered the Canucks had a bet with San Jose that they could turn him into a prom queen in two short years and, you know, he found out. For all we know, the Canucks and Ehrhoff are just working through the hockey equivalent of the pop song-length montage where they’re sad and apart, but they’re still going to patch things up at the end.

But it’s not likely. For that to happen, it’s going to take a pretty serious commitment, and I mean financially. Ehrhoff appears firm on testing the market.

Today, the Islanders came to the same conclusion. Rumours circulated that GM Garth Snow had offered Ehrhoff $5 million, only to have him reject this offer as well. And so, less than 24 hours after Mike Gillis gave up on signing Ehrhoff, shipping him to the Island for a 4th round draft pick while spouting angry Gillis-isms like If he’s unwilling to accept what we think is fair, then we’ll move on, New York, too, was shopping Ehrhoff in hopes of recouping the lost draft pick.

But it would take an idiot to bail them out. Ehrhoff’s not signing anything until July 1.

Edit: The Sabres organization would appear to be that idiot.

Honestly, can you blame him? Though it says more about the weak UFA crop than it does about Ehrhoff, he’s the most coveted blueliner on the market. His value has skyrocketed. It’s never been higher, especially because of the other things that have never been higher: namely, the salary cap and the demand for offensive defensemen.

Speaking of the latter, Ehrhoff scored 50 points last season. Know who could use 50 more points from the back end? Everybody.

Truthfully, Ehrhoff is worth more than he’s worth. Not only has his value never been higher — it’ll likely never be higher. His stats were padded by some soft minutes as part of a defense corps that had better defensive options. As a result, Ehrhoff was used primarily in an offensive role. Granted, he rocked this role, but it will be a difficult task to shelter him on a team with less depth that’s paying him more to do more.

And, speaking of less depth, Ehrhoff might have trouble reproducing his 50 points once he’s divorced from a powerplay unit that boasted two Art Ross trophies, a Hart, a Lindsay, and a Selke. There’s a 100% chance his next team doesn’t have that kind of firepower, meaning his numbers will likely decline.

Thankfully, GMs don’t think about this stuff during a bidding war, so Ehrhoff stands to make a killing. It isn’t unreasonable to assume he can make something like $6 million a year for 6 years. That’s a boatload of money. And, while people have been talking about the insignificant discrepancy between Ehrhoff’s offer with Vancouver and what he’ll make elsewhere, they’re talking annually. When you add term into the equation, we’re talking about upwards of $1o million more on the table come Friday.

In a professional world where your ability to earn could end with one sudden, unfortunate hit, getting as much as you can when you can makes a lot of sense, unless an organization you believe in convinces you to drink their “Take Less” Kool-Aid. (Sidenote: are we surprised that Juice drank the Kool-Aid? His nickname is Juice.)

And it’s not like Ehrhoff will only be tendered offers by organizations he couldn’t possibly believe in. Detroit and Chicago, for instance, just lost a primary offensive d-man — to retirement and trade, respectively — and both have the cap space to replace him. Ehrhoff may not only find exactly what he wants, financially; he could find it in a winning environment.

That’s a fabulous opportunity and I don’t begrudge Ehrhoff in the slightest for taking it.

Tags: , ,

11 comments

  1. Chelsea
    June 29, 2011

    A man like that is hard to find but I can’t get him off my mind
    Ain’t it sad
    And if he happens to be free I bet he wouldn’t fancy me
    That’s too bad
    So I must leave, I’ll have to go
    To Detroit, Chicago or Buffalo
    And win a fortune in a game, my life will never be the same…
    Money, money, money
    Must be funny
    In the rich man’s world
    - New York Islanders

    (Sorry, couldn’t help myself after I saw your tag.)

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  2. BECanucks
    June 29, 2011

    I disagree on the “only idiots would trade for his rights” I read a piece last year about the Pens trading for Dan Hamhuis negociation rights. I don’t find it anymore but in essence it was saying: you pay a 4th rounder to have acces to the information of who/how much, 24 or 48 hours earlier than the rest of the league, and you can plan accordingly.

    Friday, the isles don’t need to try to call Errhoff agent, they already know, wich means they can put their energy on somebody else.

    AND it’s good for the organisation reputation: it shows you’re trying.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Harrison Mooney
      June 29, 2011

      I hear ya, but giving a 4th round pick away to “show you’re trying” seems both wasteful and counterproductive to me.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • BECanucks
        June 29, 2011

        Disagree again, see behindthenet for the fact that people underrate picks 1-10 and overrate all the others. roughly, from a statistics point of view, a 4th or a 7th rounder is the same, and the isles need a 1st D more than they need yet another fringe NHLer

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  3. Cody
    June 29, 2011

    I believe Datsyuk went in the 6th round in 1998 and Zetterberg went in the 7th in ’99. Although not indicative of a normal late draft pick, many teams with good scouting can find an NHL regular in those late rounds. So don’t trade it away for a phone call.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • beninvictoria
      June 30, 2011

      If i never hear that stat quoted again in my life i still will have heard it too many times. yes they became awesome nhlers but those drafts were 13 and 12 years ago respectively, scouting has gotten better and there just arent as many gems to find in the later rounds. if there had been, people would be talking about them instead of endlessly using datsyuk and zetterberg as the reason for holding onto all their later picks.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Cody
        June 30, 2011

        At the 2003 draft Dustin Byufglien went 245th overall in round 8, and Halak went In round 9. I wasn’t just talking about superstars, but the chance to get an NHL regular who will play for your team for less room under the cap. Instead you trade away that chance -yes I’m aware it’s a chance- to have a possible chance at a guy who is obviously holding out for a payday. There is something to be said for a GM that cherishes his teams future as much as it’s current situation.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  4. George Stevens
    June 30, 2011

    I begrudge him. I reserve the right to begrudge anyone who does not play for the Canucks. Common examples include: Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash, Ray Lewis, Landon Donovan.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  5. Richard
    June 30, 2011

    Welp, you nailed it the sabres are the idiots they really screwed this up.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • peanutflower
      June 30, 2011

      Perhaps, but the Sabres fans are going berserk with joy. They figure they’ve got their franchise defenceman, their PP QB. I’m not sure that Hoff was the PP QB, was he? I think there is a touch of the Anson Carter effect here — anyone who is on the receiving end of Sedin passes is bound to do better. I’m not sure this leaves the gaping hole in the Canucks D that every non-Canuck fan/writer/whatever seems to think it does. Edler was underplayed because he had to back up Edler’s OMG moments most of the time. Hoff isn’t much of a physical player and really in my opinion was somewhat of a fairweather defenceman — as long as the going was good he was going. Hardly the franchise player that you would think $40 mil could buy.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  6. Dave
    July 1, 2011

    I think the contract’s much better for Ehrhoff than it is for the Sabres – he gets both stability and a lot more money than Vancouver offered.

    I am concerned about the 7-year option though, mainly because I don’t understand how it works. Those last three years drop the cap hit from 5.4M to 4M – so what happens if he doesn’t play them? Is Buffalo on the hook for 4M cap hit (and roster spot) those years even if he doesn’t play? If it’s just the cap hit, I’m sure there would be teams reaching the floor that would love to have the contract.

    But if that’s an example of what he wanted, it’s a good thing he didn’t stick with the Canucks.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)