Christian Ehrhoff was at his home in Germany on Sunday when he received a call from his agent early in the afternoon. He was surprised to see that number on his phone and figured since it was early morning where his agent, Rick Curran, was, he was about to get some important news.
At first, Ehrhoff thought it might be a trade, but then he found out the Buffalo Sabres would be buying him out the final seven years of his contract, a 10-year deal he signed in 2011. Worried about the massive cap recapture penalty they would be hit with if the soon-to-be 32-year old defenseman retired early, general manager Tim Murray decided to make the move now.
“I was really, really surprised when I got the news Sunday afternoon,” Ehrhoff said on a conference call Wednesday afternoon.
Ehrhoff felt the Penguins were the best fit for him and the best place for him to go win a Stanley Cup. That’s why, despite other offers, Pittsburgh became his preference when they got involved. Not long after the free agent market opened on Tuesday, he signed a one-year, $4 million deal.
“With the salary issues Pittsburgh had for this year it was not possible to get a higher number and that was the best offer for me,” he said.
Signing Ehrhoff was the start of a big day for new Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. He would sign two more Germans before the day was over with, bringing back forward Marcel Goc and inking goaltender Thomas Greiss from Arizona, and adding to his forward with the addition of Blake Comeau.
The 2014-15 season for the Penguins will be one of change. There’s a new GM, a new head coach and a number of new faces replacing old ones in the locker room. The off-season drama surrounding Pittsburgh wasn’t a concern for Ehrhoff. Playing on a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin was just one of the reasons he jumped at the chance to sign.
It’s going to be a big change from being a part of a Sabres team that fell apart in the beginning of last season and then fired the head coach and general manager in November, signaling that a rebuild was coming. While Ehrhoff was surprised at the buy out, how his tenure ended in Buffalo won’t serve as fuel for him going forward.
"I'm just really excited to be on a team that has a chance to compete,” he said. “That’s motivation enough for me"
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