Christian Ehrhoff would be a nice fit for Edmonton’s blue line

The Edmonton Oilers will have a different look next season after some substantial changes this summer, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the club still needs some help on the back end. As it happens there are a number of quality players still available in free agency and one of them, Christian Ehrhoff, is willing to join a team on a single-season contract.

Jason Brough of NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk blog revealed yesterday that Ehrhoff wasn’t looking for term:

Ehrhoff’s agent, Rick Curran, told PHT in an email that the 33-year-old unrestricted free agent “doesn’t mind having the flexibility of a single year commitment. He’s confident in his ability to provide a valued role to the right team. If there’s a mutual fit, an extension will likely follow.”

Assuming that the Oilers do indeed plan to nix a defenceman (most likely Nikita Nikitin) when their second buyout window opens, the team has the financial freedom to offer Ehrhoff a pretty rich contract, perhaps even one at a $5.0 million salary. They have some significant incentives to do so, most notably the current state of the defence corps.

The Depth Chart

21-Ference-6

As it stands, the most probable Oilers’ depth chart on defence looks something like this:

  • Andrej Sekera and Mark Fayne in a shutdown role.
  • Oscar Klefbom and Justin Schultz in an offensive role.
  • Some combination of Nikita Nikitin, Andrew Ference, Eric Gryba, Griffin Reinhart and Darnell Nurse rounding out the group.

It’s not a group I’d be comfortable with, despite the excellent addition of Sekera.

Klefbom had an impressive rookie campaign, but it wasn’t without some rough patches. He was thrown into the deep end, particularly late, and showed his inexperience. If Sekera goes down for any length of time, the Oilers will be leaning on Klefbom, a couple of No. 6/7 veterans and rookies on the left side. It’s not a healthy arrangement.

Fayne and Schultz also have warts. Fayne has had his best success with a puckmover, and outside of Sekera it’s not clear there’s a natural fit for him in the system, particularly since he and Klefbom struggled as a pairing in 2014-15. Schultz on the other hand has struggled for three seasons now at even-strength and may not truly be a top-four option at five-on-five at this point in his career.

Adding another veteran, particularly a left-shooting veteran, would go a long way toward stabilizing the group. Imagine for a moment a hypothetical depth chart with Ehrhoff added:

  • Oscar Klefbom and Andrej Sekera on a minute-munching top pairing, with Sekera moving to the right side.
  • Christian Ehrhoff and Mark Fayne on a legitimate second pairing, with Ehrhoff free to play the role of offensive defenceman because he has the stable Fayne, and Fayne free to rely on Ehrhoff for the majority of the puck-moving.
  • Griffin Reinhart and Justin Schultz in a third-pairing role, with Schultz providing the things (speed, offence) that Reinhart lacks, and Reinhart providing the attributes (solid defensive awareness, strength in front of the net) that don’t come naturally to Schultz.

Add in Eric Gryba and/or Andrew Ference to round out the group and the Oilers would have greatly improved depth and wouldn’t be in a world of hurt if one player went down.

Reasons it Could Work

Todd McLellan2

There are a lot of reasons a one-year deal might make sense for everyone involved.

In addition to his five-on-five play, Ehrhoff is a legitimate power play ace – both in a general sense and specifically with Todd McLellan. Ehrhoff broke out in his mid-20’s when McLellan took over the Sharks, jumping to 42 points which was then a career-high. He’d give McLellan a weapon from the blue line the Oilers currently lack, and he’d have the comfort of going back to a coach he had success under previously.

If the Oilers are better than expected, Ehrhoff could well become a fixture on the blue line, starting out as a second-pairing veteran and shifting down into a No. 5 role as younger players push their way up the depth chart. If the Oilers are not particularly good, Ehrhoff would doubtless be moved at the deadline to a contender looking for defencemen, giving him a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup in 2016. Either he gets a long-term home or a shot at a championship.

It’s worth thinking about.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • A-Mc

    The D looks a little too crowded for me.. And i still have this nagging feeling that Nurse is going to out play Ference, Nikitin, Jultz, Reinhart and Gryba. That legitimately throws him into the top 4 with only Sekera, Klefbom and Fayne ahead of him.

    If Nurse has the skill, my only concern for him being in the NHL is “is he getting enough ice time?”. If he’s getting 17+ minutes a night, i’m good with him being in the NHL.

    I honestly believe he’s ready to make the jump.

  • Stay Frosty

    If Ehrhoff signs a one year contract with us, we can finally move past the decade of suck, into the realm of Average NHL Team. Like escaping basement confinement and relishing your first meal at Denny’s. Heavenly mediocrity.

    • 1983 and This Year

      Now that’s the funniest thing I’ve read on here in a while. Quality.

      And a reminder to everyone… Don’t feed the trolls. This site is better than that. Have a McDavid day instead!

  • clrsnldvc81

    Erhoff has nothing to offer the oilers.
    He is a temp fix for any team that is looking for a bottom 4-5 guy for a run at the cup.

    Our young D need a chance to become a top 2 d man (Nurse, klefbom, reinhart and even Shultz)
    You don’t become nhl D men by playing in the ahl and not getting a legit shot.
    Ehhoff will only delay that valuable ice time for another year. Then we will be back in the same jam we are in this year.

    Sekera – fayne

    Klefbom – Shultz (maybe even Nurse)

    5-6 options

    Gryba (our GM sees something in him and we should repect that)
    Reinhart (might need another year in the Ahl)
    Ference (excellent capt and role model on a team that lacks charactor)
    Nikitin (was a top 4 guy who seemed to lose it)
    Nurse (could very well be the best of our young D and could be a number one guy in the next few years)

    Erhoff would help us this year, but in the long run he would just delay development and maybe even frustrate our blue chip prospects that worked their butts off for a shot at the bigs.

    • clrsnldvc81

      Don’t you think all our Left shot D prospects would develop better if they had a puck moving vet like Erhoff on their right side? I mean, he is a bit one dimensional and maybe not the best D out there, but the same could be said of Roy and he helped Yak develop over the last half of the year.

      Just curious because right now they seem to get paired with Schultz, Fayne, or Nikitin, and I’m not sure either of those 3 are suited to that mentor role.

      So, maybe he doesn’t help us win the cup, but I bet he helps one of Reinheart, Klefbom, or Nurse develop better than any of the other current possible pairings.

      • Mr.Ulanov

        Not as much at people might think.. For a few reasons.

        Main reason ice time:

        Serkra – fayne

        Ehroff – Shultz( to much offence on the same line. Thatt moves him into a 5/6 role)
        Klefbom (best fit)
        Nurse ( maybe..)
        Reinhart ( might not be ready for a top 4 role)
        So now in the bottom pair we have Shultz (we need to give that ice time too)
        And then maybe gyba? Niki? Ference? All one way contracts and 2 of them are big cap hits. Then we have nurse. Do we send him away again? Because we don’t have the room. And now reinhart is way out..

        Ehroff would most likely improve klefbom game. But it would stunt nurse and maybe even reinhart.

        Another reason why I don’t think he is a good fit:

        We need that number one guy.. I’m sorry but I really doubt Sekera is that guy.
        We can’t be up against the cap if we hope to trade for that number 1 guy.

        • CMG30

          If a trade for a stud number 1 defenseman was to occur in the season, it would doubtlessly include at least 1 if not more of the wonderkids going the other way. That would clear enough cap space for the incoming player.

          If the Oil can get Ehrhoff for reasonable dollars and term without compromising the future with cap limitations, I say go for it. We’re only 1 solid defenseman away from being truly competitive (on paper anyway). When’s the last time you could say that with a straight face?

        • BabyNugeMonitor

          Shultz Purcell and Niki are getting dumped next year and will free up a ton of cap space, thats when we get our #1 D-man, as for now Ehrhoff would be a perfect fit and could provide valuable knowlege for our young lads

  • billythebullet

    This group of d wouldn’t be nearly as bothersome if it wasn’t so blatantly overpaid.A lot of expensive one way contracts suggest to me that the major overhaul happens next off season.
    2015-16
    Sekera – Shultz
    Ferance – Fayne
    Klefbom – Gryba
    Reinhart – Niki
    2016-17
    Klefbom – Sekera
    Nurse – Fayne
    Rienhart – Gryba
    Ferance – ?

  • clrsnldvc81

    Hey Jonathan,

    Would Ehrhoff consider a contract riddled with performance base bonuses? If he plays 50+ games. If he scores X amount of points. etc.

    The concussions are alarming. Stabalizing the short term would be good but if its at the 5 million dollar mark it severely hampers us making any in season moves (knock on wood) if anything were to go wrong with some of our core.

    (as mentioned above we only have about 3.5 million in cap space as it stands)

    • Shit bitch cunt fuck

      Does nobody understand the nhl? Performance bonuses are only possible on ELC and over 35 players. This has always been the rule, and every time this comes up, someone has pointed out the mistake. Pay attention people!!!

      • clrsnldvc81

        Relax dude… i missed that memo obviously because i don’t know each point in the NHL rule book… Didn’t realize he was only 34…

        Give me your private contact info so i can submit all my future questions and inquiries for review prior to posting it with the CBA/NHL Rulebook Guru…

        #getalife

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Wow. The middle of July and commentors here already have their game faces on. Passion on display.

    Also plenty George Costanza types thinking their lies/opinions are true, if they believe them to be so.

  • clrsnldvc81

    The headline is pretty clear, it’s merely stating that he’s be a good fit. The article then goes over reasons why he would be a good fit.

    It’s nice to see all of the Oilers’ options, no matter how grande or insubstantial, plausible or unrealistic.

    This option seems doable.

    I would not go after Ehrhoff, myself, because of the contracts situation for the next couple of years. But by all other metrics it does look like he’d be a solid addition to the defensive roster. And I totally get the fact that an injury on defense would be felt, but I do think Nurse or Reinhart coming up as a result isn’t a horribly bad option.

    Exciting time to be an Oilers fan, would these UFAs even consider Edmonton if we still had the Old Boys Club running things?

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    The Cap Guru on the Oilers better have McDavid at 12 mil cap hit. Katz will not let the face of “The Ice District” leave town. 96 Mill 8 years

    The sick part is he’ll only be 29 and going into his prime. Oilers trade him to Toronto for the Blue Jays.

    The next three years will be the build for a run at the prize. The management must not panic and go for short term band-aid solution. Plan the team around Hall RNH McDavid Nurse Klefbom. Get Sneids out of Jersey.

    Then order a Large Mediterranean Chicken……..JD Coke

  • oilslick

    I would like that signing a lot…a good deal for both sides Ehrhoff & The Oilers…Just wondering does signing Schultz to a one year deal make him any more palatable to be traded elsewhere?

  • DISALLUSIONED ? Why are we keeping all the bad contracts and mistakes on the back end of our squad ? New coaching got pixie dust to make them all perform that much better ? Add Purcell to the bad contracts .

    • CMG30

      What’s the alternative? Buy them all out and lose ~10M in cap space for the next 2 years? A buyout of Ferrance would have cap implications for what, 4-5 years? Just what we need when McDavids’ ELC expires.

      If we could trade them I’d be all for it, but good luck finding a partner. Nobody is going to pick those guys up even if they were on waivers.

      • CDNinATL

        If we buy out Ference, we take his current cap hit of $3.25 million (2 years left on his contract) and turn that into a cap hit $1.09 million over 4 years. At least I’m pretty sure that what it’ll end up being.

        Basically we save a bit over $2 million for the first 2 years and have a bit over $1 million on the books for another 2.

        Nikitin IMO, isn’t worth doing since he only has the one year left.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’m to lazy to see which teams are at or near the cap floor that would possibly want a guy like Nikitin, Ference, or maybe even Fayne.

    As much as I’d like to see Nikitin gone via buyout it doesn’t make sense to have dead cap space wasted on Nikitin for 2 years. I’d rather take a 5th round pick (spitballing) with some money held back for 1 yr only.

    Thanks in advance.

  • HECTOR

    I think we dont need to go nuts getting the #1 defense man this year. Let the guys play, see how the new coach gets them more responsible defensively and improve as a team. Having Nurse or Rienhart in AHL is not a bad thing, probably a good confidence booster if they dominate. Nurse just finished his junior career. I know he played some playoffs with OKC but he will only get better.

  • HECTOR

    The fact that the Oilers have been so bad for so long, it pisses me off that they are smack dab up against the cap limit.

    Seems to me there have been a lot of bad contracts given to a lot of bad players.

    Very poor money management for a lot of years.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    Unless a trade can be worked out for a top pairing or second pairing dman…let’s just roll with who we have and let the competition in camp flush out who gets the jobs, and the distribution of minutes played. Let’s keep in mind that it is absolutely not the year for a cup run, and more to the point , based on the amount of points needed. .it’s highly unlikely it’s even a playoff year. Keep the core intact, develop the younger players,and let PC continue to add key elements while some undesirable contracts come off the books…and we’ll b in good shape moving forward.

  • JackB

    The only way you bring in Ehroff on a 1year deal at say 4-5mil is if your planning on sending Niki to the minors. think nurse/ reinhart are not ready for a nhl role. only play Shultz 10 min a night on the third pairing and on the second pp unit… and have gryba as the 7th d man.

    I don’t like it. Nurse deserves a good shot. got to see what the kid can do sometime. the kids need to play.. He won’t take the “pressure off” he will stunt development.

    We need a top 2 guy, Not a good four or five guy. There is only 2 ways to get a top guy.. Trade and pay a arm and a leg or develop. If we want to get nurse, reinheart, Shultz and klefbom to that level… You need to play them, Even if there are growing pains. Sorry to tell you this but oilers will not win the cup this year. We don’t need a temp/depth guy.

  • Mr.Ulanov

    Been reading this site for many years now since it was created. Obviously never posted before mostly for not knowing what to make my tag.

    Decided to go with Mr.Ulanov because of a running joke between me and my brother from years back. I can thank my brother for brainwashing me to the Oilers after I found something cooler than He-man.

    Gotta love UuuLeeeeee.

    Just wanted to say I enjoy most of the articles on this site as well as the comments.

    Our woman can never understand how long we can sit in front of our computers never really looking at anything besides words and chuckling to a joke she’ll never understand.

  • Mr.Ulanov

    I guess I should give an opinion. Chia has created a lot of completion in all positions. Were standing pat until training camp.

    Its up to the vets to play there hearts out keeping the kids in the AHL. They may not be the Vets we want especially on the D but there the ones we signed and are stuck with.

    We created in house competition to light a fire under there asses to play for pride (Ference). In Nitz case a contract to stay relevant in the NHL (also perhaps pride).

    In the scenario of kids like Nurse and Reinhart hungering for a spot how hard will that make Ference and Nitkinin play to stay viable.

    People forget that in life when our jobs are threatened we circle the horses in our head and get down to business because we all have bills to pay and families to take care of.

  • clrsnldvc81

    Ehrhoff makes a lot of sense on a 1 yr deal. Adds a top 4 dman we badly need. Allows Chia to evaluate team without any guess work. With a top 4 addition, we can see if Talbot is cut out for the job.