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Blog Entry

Canucks will look to Edler to replace Ehrhoff

Posted on: September 17, 2011 4:23 pm
 
Edler1

By: Adam Gretz

Over the past two seasons no defenseman on the Vancouver Canucks roster provided more offense than Christian Ehrhoff's 28 goals and 66 assists.

The veteran defenseman moved on this summer, signing a lucrative -- some might say outrageous -- contract with the Buffalo Sabres that will make him one of the highest paid players in the NHL this season with a salary of $10 million. The contract carries an average annual salary of $4 million, which isn't all that bad for a player that produces like he has -- until you remember that it runs for 10 seasons and Ehrhoff will be 39 when it expires.

Still, Ehrhoff has proven to be a productive player and one of Vancouver's top defenseman, and such production from the blue line would seem to be difficult to replace. Captain Henrik Sedin has an interesting perspective on Ehrhoff's absence and how the team will work to replace him.

From Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun:
“He was in a spot where I think we have other guys who can step up and play in that role,” Sedin said, clearly referring to Ehrhoff’s power-play time. “Alex [Edler] is going to get more responsibility and we have a healthy Sami Salo now, and we have some other guys who are going to play a few more minutes.

“I think on the back end we were deep last year and we are deep this year. So I don’t think we should lose too much.”

A large percentage of Ehrhoff's point production came on the power play the past two seasons, while the Canucks put him in situations where, more often than not, he was starting a shift in the offensive zone as opposed to the defensive zone. He also was usually on the ice with the Sedin twins. Back when Ehrhoff originally signed his contract with the Sabres, Gabriel Desjardins at Arctic Ice Hockey put together an analysis of how the Canucks used Ehrhoff and how favorable it was for the defenseman to put up points.

From AIH back in late June:

40% of the time that Christian Ehrhoff was on the ice, the Sedins were there too.  Ehrhoff got easy ice time - either the 5th- or 6th-softest on the team this season, and the highest percentage of faceoffs in the offensive zone among the defensive corps.

Not only that, but he didn't outshine his teammates in scoring at 5-on-5

Obviously when you're playing with players like the Sedin twins, on the power play, and in a position where you're starting closer to the goal you're trying to score on offensive production is going to be slightly easier to come by, and that's the situation Ehrhoff usually found himself in as a member of the Canucks. That's not to say that Ehrhoff is a bad player or that he'll be easily replaceable, it just may not be as hard as one might expect. The Canucks still have some impressive depth on the blue line with Dan Hamhuis, Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Keith Ballard and Sami Salo. It's still an excellent group.

Edler, 25, will likely take over Ehrhoff's role and he seems more than capable of leading the Canucks blue line from an offensive perspective. In just 51 games last season he finished with eight goals and 23 assists, which followed seasons where he recorded 42 and 37 points respectively. It should be interesting to see what sort of boost -- if any -- his production gets this season taking on more power play responsibilities and filling the role that belonged to Ehrhoff the past two seasons.

Photo: Getty Images

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Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 8:39 pm
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kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 8:08 pm
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Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: September 18, 2011 3:36 pm
 

Canucks will look to Edler to replace Ehrhoff

Mr. Gretz's report oozes with distain, if not disgust, over the contract that Christian Ehrhoff signed with Buffalo:
The veteran defenseman moved on this summer, signing a lucrative -- some might say outrageous -- contract with the Buffalo that will make him one of the highest paid players in the NHL this season with a salary of $10 million. The contract carries , which isn't all that bad for a player that produces like he has -- until you remember that it runs for 10 seasons and Ehrhoff will be 39 when it expires.
Still, Ehrhoff has proven to be a productive player and one of Vancouver's top defenseman, and such production from the blue line would seem to be difficult to replace.
So what that this runs until he will be 39 years old?  First, this is not outrageously old for an NHL player.  (This is why the contract is entirely consistent with the spirit of the current contract guidelines*.)
(* Do not doubt that there are NHL contract guidelines; if you are in doubt, ask the NJ Devils.)

Second, as noted, a $4MM annual cap hit "is not all that bad for a player that produces like he has".  I would argue that this is actually very cheap for one of the most highly coveted FA's to hit the market; his price was expected to be in the $5.5MM/season neighborhood.  If Ehrhoff plays 7 1/4 seasons in Buffalo then they will have paid him the rate that he was expected to receive.  Meanwhile he did sign with Buffalo rather than another team such as Detroit.  A more accurate way to look at this contract is that it is a six year contract with team options up to as many as four years.  He does not need to be anywhere close to 39 years old for this to have been a prudent contract. Obviously this is predicated on him being very productive over the first five years of the contract; that is, IMHO, a reasonable expectation.

Third, there is a corollary to the notion that "such production from the blue line would seem to be difficult to replace".  It is also very difficult to acquire.  The Sabres, under their new ultra-wealthy owner, have demonstrated that they are serious about becoming SC contenders.  The Sabres had a critical need to upgrade their blueline with an offensive d-man.  While the team has some nice young talent in the pipeline, they weren't going to get such a player organically.  A trade for a comparable talent would have required a significant amount of cap space and would have cost the Sabres talent that is still on their roster.

Signing Ehrhoff pushes the Sabres into serious consideration for being included in SC contender discussion.  (I am not saying that they are serious SC contenders.  Yet.  That they must be included in the discussion is hard to challenge.)  The team did it because they have an owner that can do it.  The contract, when looked at realistically, is far from "outrageous".  I am very impressed by what Vancouver has done over recent seasons.  I do not think that they will falter badly without Ehrhoff, but any assertion that a proven veteran can be easily replaced must be met with skepticism.  I will maintain a wait-and-see attitude towards Alex Edler.

In a year or two we'll know if he has been an adequate replacement.  I like the Canucks; I hope he is.  Meanwhile, the Sabres got their man that was coveted around the league and in the process are clearly a much stronger team.  If he plays at a high level for Buffalo for five or more years then it was also a shrewd business decision to offer the contract he signed.




Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: September 18, 2011 3:12 pm
 

Canucks will look to Edler to replace Ehrhoff

Good article by Gretz imo.   Hit on most of the major factors that should be taken into account when evaluating how effective Ehrhoff was offensively.     Most of the Vancouver blueline still adept at keeping the puck in offensive zone, and Edler will fill most of the void offensively.  Hamhuis has underrated offensive ability too.   If Ballard grows up mentally and Salo times his injuries better this year, Vancouver may not notice much of absence.   There will be times when his shot is missed, but they can cover for most of the loss.

Vancouver had plenty of significant blueline injuries all of last year, a little good fortune in the health department and this blueline may be about the best 1-8 in the league still.


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