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.
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: Ehrhoff, Free Agency, money money money