Take one of the big names off the board, as the Los Angeles Kings have agreed to terms with defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
The Orange County Register’s Rich Hammond reported Ehrhoff’s deal is a one-year pact worth $1.5 million, which leaves the Kings with nearly $5 million in cap space.
Ehrhoff is coming off of a three-goal, 14-point season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, though he missed more than 30 games due to concussion issues. While his health is a concern, Ehrhoff hadn’t missed much time in the past two seasons.
Ehrhoff had reportedly been in talks with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but was given a low offer. There had been no inklings Ehrhoff would be joining the Kings, but his signing makes sense following an off-season in which the club lost blueliner -- and big-name trade deadline acquisition -- Andrej Sekera to the Edmonton Oilers in free agency.
As far as replacements for Sekera go, Ehrhoff is a fantastic one for the Kings. He has the offensive capabilities to replace Sekera's production and has been a steady defender throughout his career. He's also a fantastic skater and has the ability to slot in as a quarterback on the Kings' power play.
It has been four years since Ehrhoff's career-best 14-goal, 50-point season, but he’s the perfect compliment to the Kings’ blueline which already features the likes of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez. By bringing in Ehrhoff, who becomes one of only two 30-year-old blueliners on the Los Angeles roster, the Kings have shored up a defense that was in need of at least one more piece following Sekera’s departure.
The Kings were also in need of another bluliner as there remains some uncertainty about what the future holds for defenseman Slava Voynov, who missed all of this past season amidst domestic violence charges. Voynov was suspended indefinitely by the league and there has been no word regarding whether the Kings will bring him back to the team or sever ties with Voynov.
As for Ehrhoff, he likely slots in as a second-pairing defenseman in Los Angeles. As a second-pairing blueliner, he will have the opportunity to have his minutes lightened and, realistically, he won’t be looked to as a prime source of offensive production from the backend. In Buffalo and Pittsburgh, two of his past locales, he was the one of the prime offensive options, but Los Angeles’ trio of Doughty, Muzzin and Martinez can all find the score sheet with regularity.
That Ehrhoff has decided to sign a short-term, low-dollar offer with the Kings speaks to the power of the Kings’ success. For the second consecutive off-season, Ehrhoff has taken less than he likely could have gotten — in both term and dollars — to land with a team he believes can compete for a Stanley Cup. The Kings have won two of the past four Cups and have a roster primed to get back into the post-season in 2015-16.