Christian Ehrhoff took a one-year, $4 million dollar contract from the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2014-15 season, turning down more money because he wanted the chance to win. In 2015-16, he might have to take whatever he can get.
According to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, Ehrhoff, who’s still on the free agent market nearly a month after the free agency period opened, has been given a “low-ball offer” from the Blue Jackets. Ehrhoff, writes Portzline, wants to play in Columbus, but with the club having roughly $3.7 million available in cap space, they can’t afford to shell out the $4 million Ehrhoff earned this past season. So if Ehrhoff does want to become a Blue Jacket, he’ll be doing so on the cheap.
Portzline added that talks between Ehrhoff and the Blue Jackets haven’t been contentious. Rather, the two sides simply need to find a way to work something out, and the only thing that would work for the Blue Jackets right now would be a sub-$4 million salary.
What’s hurting Ehrhoff so greatly this off-season is that his production slipped in a big way in Pittsburgh. After seasons of 32, 33 and 22 points, which came in the lockout-shortened season, Ehrhoff mustered just three goals and 14 points this past season, while missing nearly half the year to injury.
He still possesses offensive punch – and it’s clear there’s interest from the Blue Jackets – but at 33, he’s entering the back half of his career, and shelling out big money for a blueliner who could be on his way to his first season of decline is a risky proposition.
In Columbus, GM Jarmo Kekalainen hasn’t built a stable of defensemen that inspires Stanley Cup contender-type confidence and adding a veteran with proven talent would certainly help boost the outlook on the backend.
Portzline points out that the hope in Columbus could be that Ehrhoff is forced to sit on the open market for a little while longer. And, the longer he sits, the more receptive he could become to taking a lesser, short-term deal in hopes of inking something more lucrative with a longer term come next offseason.
Financially, the fit isn’t there, but in every other way, it seems to make sense that Ehrhoff would land in Columbus.