Edmonton - June 29, 2014 - On Friday night, the Oilers addressed one of their many apparent needs by drafting Prince Albert centerman, Leon Draisaitl 3rd overall. On this beautiful Sunday Morning, the Buffalo Sabres are opening the door for Craig MacTavish to take care of another one. Bob Mckenzie tweeting out this morning that the Sabres were initiating compliance buyout procedure on top defensemen, Christian Ehrhoff.
This appears to be the type of no-brainer that the Oilers have been waiting for since the first tee time in May. MacTavish has been preaching the need to add a top-pairing defenseman since the middle of last season, and it would now appear he has a chance to do so. In 3 years at $4 Million per year, Ehrhoff has been able to eclipse 30 points twice, and was on pace for his most productive season in his 2012-2013 shortened campaign.
There are multiple reasons being reported as to why the Sabres are parting with the German veteran, and there is probably some truth to all of them. There is some concern that with his elongated term, potential retirement would cause Tim Murray and the rest of the organization an inevitable headache. The other report is that the buyout is a prime example of Murray making it clear that if someone doesn’t want to be in Buffalo, he will get them out.
Either way, the Sabre’s loss in this case is surely someone else’s gain. The Oilers will no doubt be on a long list of teams to meet with Ehrhoff’s agent before Tuesday’s free agent frenzy. The question is (as it always is) what are the chances that the Oilers will have an attractive enough offer to land him a spot on the blueline at Rexall? Then of course, what would it cost?
Ehrhoff would be an answer to the ever-prevalent question that has presented itself for years in Edmonton, so one would think that the Oilers would be willing to pay for him. But where does the line in the sand appear? If the fear is that retirement is approaching, one would assume that a short term will be expected. Would 2 years at 7 Million be too much of an overpayment? Surely the Nikita Nikitin signing will have some sort of impact on the price tag if Ehrhoff were to decide to make Edmonton his next home.
Whatever the term, whatever the cost, the Oilers would be very foolish to let an opportunity like this one go by the wayside. Christian Ehrhoff was able to remain consistently productive offensively on one of the worst teams of the last 10 years, and with the depth of the defensive core that Edmonton is building; you would have to think that he would be able to find some sort of success in Copper and Blue threads.
If Edmonton were able to bring Ehrhoff on board, the door would be open for all kinds of shifts and balances in the depth chart. Justin Shchultz would have an offensive defenseman to eat up top minutes so that he can develop properly. Jeff Petry would be given a chance to play on the 2nd and 3rd pairing where he thrives. Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and even pending RFA Taylor Fedun, would respectively be given room to develop or be used as trade bait for other needs in the lineup.
A Christian Ehrhoff signing could very well take the Edmonton Oilers from the hopeless mess that they are now, to a team that isn’t far off from competing in the west. I have maintained since there was first mention of him being available for trade, that the Oilers would be wise to jump on the bus, and now they have a chance to do so without sacrificing a key piece on the roster.
I’m not sure what MacTavish would have to do or say to convince Christian Ehrhoff that his best available landing spot is the house that Gretzky built. In his time with the Canucks, he had a lot of the same things that he would get in Edmonton. One of the things he didn’t have in Vancouver is a nice plate of Weiner-Schnitzel cooked by fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl. Oilers should probably start there. Get that German connection started early.
Feel free to disagree with me on twitter @Jthompson2380