Blackhawks send Scuderi to Kings for Ehrhoff in creative cap move for both teams

The Blackhawks and Kings have swapped veteran defensemen Rob Scuderi and Christian Ehrhoff, both of whom were buried in the AHL. But the deal makes use of salary retention in order to get both teams what they want.

It’s well within the realm of possibility the Blackhawks and Kings could becomes foes come the Western Conference final. As of Friday, however, Chicago and Los Angeles helped each other with a creative swap of veteran defensemen.

In a late-afternoon deal, the Blackhawks acquired 33-year-old blueliner Christian Ehrhoff from the Kings in exchange for 37-year-old rearguard Rob Scuderi. The deal brings both defensemen back up to the NHL after they had each spent several weeks buried on their respective AHL clubs. The deal did favors to both sides, too, with some creative thinking on the parts of GMs Stan Bowman and Dean Lombardi.

As part of the trade, the Kings have retained 15 percent of Ehrhoff’s salary, which means he heads to Chicago with a cap hit of $1.275 million, with $325,000 currently counting against the cap, per CapFriendly.

Ehrhoff played in 40 games with the Kings this season, notching two goals and 10 points. Originally brought in and thought to be a good second-pairing option, Ehrhoff couldn’t couldn’t find his fit with the Kings. He averaged 15:11 per game in Los Angeles, and, once a power play specialist, barely saw minutes on the man advantage with the Kings. He was waived and subsequently demoted in mid-February, and had three assists in five games with the AHL’s Ontario Reign.

In Chicago, it’s likely Ehrhoff will take on a bottom-pairing role, which is where Scuderi had previously played with the Blackhawks when he wasn’t made a scratch. Previously, the Blackhawks had been rumored to have been looking at an acquisition of Cancuks veteran blueliner Dan Hamhuis, but this deal likely puts them out of the running for the Vancouver defender. In order to land Ehrhoff, though, the Blackhawks had to keep half of what they were paying Scuderi over the next two season’s.

All of this makes Scuderi’s cap hit a touch more confusing. The Penguins had previously retained one-third of Scuderi’s contract in the initial trade to the Blackhawks, meaning Chicago’s 50 percent salary retention only puts them on the hook for one-third of the total value. More simply put, the Kings are will have to accomodate one-third of Scuderi’s total cap hit, which will be $1.125 million next season.

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And it’s hard to imagine Scuderi isn’t a fan of returning to the club with which he won the 2012 Stanley Cup. The blueliner hadn’t picked up a single point in his 17 games with the Blackhawks and had mustered only four points, all assists, in 42 games this season. The Kings are making space for him on their 23-man roster — they demoted Kevin Gravel — but Scuderi will likely only see third-pairing minutes. Over his time with Pittsburgh and Chicago this season, he has skated less than 15 minutes per game. Still, that’s more NHL time than he was seeing in Chicago, and the Kings get a veteran blueliner to fill out their D-corps.

While it’s a bit confusing, and may seem like a trade that hurts the Kings, it’s a trade that works for both sides and a fit for both organizations.

In essence, the deal brings the Blackhawks a defenseman who will likely better suit their system than Scuderi, but they will had to take on some salary in order to make the deal work. Per CapFriendly, the Blackhawks lose roughly $35,000 in salary as of Friday’s transaction, but will gain $175,000 next season in what would have been a buried contract for Scuderi. For the Kings, they gain a defenseman who knows their system and have the option to bury Scuderi’s contract next season at little cost to the club.