Where does Christian Ehrhoff fit with the Los Angeles Kings?
And does his arrival mean the end of Slava Voynov with Los Angeles?
Those are two important questions that have been asked since Ehrhoff signed a one-year $1.5 million contract with the Kings on Sunday.
It seemed to truly signal the final Hollywood chapter for Voynov, who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for domestic violence earlier this summer. He’s suspended by the NHL and the Kings.
LA Kings Insider tries to answer these questions in a Thursday blog:
While Ehrhoff’s impending signing raises the question of how the organization plans on handling Slava Voynov, at this point it is still too early to gain a firm sense of whether or not Voynov will play (or be allowed to play) for Los Angeles in 2015-16.
According to hockey operations, Voynov has not yet been released from a detention facility (though he has been eligible for a work-release program). The current hurdle with Voynov is his immigration status, which has not yet been resolved. Should his immigration status be resolved, the league’s investigation will then take place.
Long-term, Ehrhoff will not replace Voynov. The Russian blueliner is 25 years old. Ehrhoff is 33 and is no longer the dynamically skating puck mover he was before. Ehrhoff can still play with efficiency, just not at that high level. He played just 49 games last season and had 14 points for a career low in points per-game at 0.29. In Voynov’s last full season he notched 0.41 points per-game. The year before in 48 games he was at 0.52.
But with Drew Doughty probably expected to again play near 30 minutes (and capably so) for Los Angeles, Voynov's presence shouldn't loom super large. Having other solid blueliners like Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin should help. Throw Ehrhoff in there and you have a decent defense group.
Assuming he’s fully recovered from the concussion he suffered last year, Ehrhoff fits in as a projected number four defenseman in L.A. With Drew Doughty joined at the hip with Jake Muzzin, Ehrhoff projects to be paired with Alec Martinez. Both players can play either side, and if the chemistry pans out, would make a very strong second unit.
Adds Jewels from the Crown.
Similar to Andrej Sekera, Ehrhoff is a solid, puck moving defenseman who will be a major help to the Kings. He's not the #gritty #heart #cliche defensive defenseman nor is he a typical offensive defenseman, but the veteran of 741 regular season games does have some ability to score, as evidenced by his 72 goals to go along with his 255 assists.
And for one year at that contract all the Kings really need is a puck mover -- even if he's not what he once was.
Whether this is indeed the end for Voynov involves a few other moving parts. Voynov is also rehabbing for a torn Achilles. Says The Insider...
Though the legal hurdles appear to be the most significant impediment towards the resuscitation of his career at this point, I have been told that he is “getting close” to being able to skate, and his original general rehabilitation timeline holds firm.
It seems the Kings would rather not have Voynov around anymore anyway due to the dark domestic violence cloud following him along with LA's other off-ice problems this summer.
And if Ehrhoff plays well enough they may not need Voynov this season after all. But if Ehrhoff flops – a real possibility considering his concussion history – then LA will have to pivot on D again.
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