The Detroit Red Wings’ search for a top-four defenseman just got a bit more interesting.
BUF’s buyout of defenceman Christian Ehrhoff has been finalized. He’s UFA.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2014
The 31-year-old signed a 10-year, $40 million contract beginning in the 2011-12 season.
Ehrhoff is everything the Red Wings are looking for in a defenseman, except for the fact he shoots left-handed. It’s been well-documented the Red Wings have been looking for a right-handed defenseman to offset the seven they currently have on the roster.
Matt Niskanen is the other defenseman I’ve been high on this offseason. The problem with Niskanen is he is coming off a breakout year and will be asking for a lot of money.
Whether he is worth that amount of money or not has yet to be seen. Ehrhoff, on the other hand, is a very solid defenseman who has played against the other team’s top players on a consistent basis.
As Winging it in Motown notes, Ehrhoff spent significantly more time on the penalty kill than Niskanen did.
With a 12th-ranked penalty kill last year at 83.1 percent, the Red Wings could use a solid defenseman who can also kill penalties.
Ehrhoff is also younger than the other defenseman the Red Wings have been high on, Dan Boyle. Boyle is 37 and nearing the end of his career and would basically be a rental at this point. Ehrhoff is 31 and could stick around in Detroit for three to four years and still remain consistent. Ehrhoff had 33 points in 79 games last year, but has scored as many as 50 points in 2010-11 with the Vancouver Canucks.
In a perfect world, the Red Wings would probably pass on Ehrhoff and look for a right-handed defenseman. But as Mike Babcock has stated numerous times, top-four defenseman don’t grow on trees.
Ehrhoff is a proven commodity, and it would be in the Red Wings’ best interest to pursue him. Shea Weber and P.K. Subban aren’t leaving their teams anytime soon, and the odds of trading for someone like Dustin Byfuglien and not giving up the entire crop of prospects are slim to none.