If Christian Ehrhoff has anything, it’s a financial cushion.
He made $22 million in three years with the Buffalo Sabres and then collected more when his contract was bought out. He didn’t need a blockbuster, long-term deal as an unrestricted free agent. He could pick his spot, try to win and do it all again next summer.
Which he did on Tuesday, signing a 1-year, $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The other suitor was the Detroit Red Wings, but Ehrhoff instead chose the Penguins, ostensibly replacing Matt Niskanen, who had 46 points in 81 games before bolting as a UFA.
It’s a smart bet for both the team and the player. Ehrhoff slides right into a defense corps as the second-best puck moving D-man behind Kris Letang and as a veteran stop-gap to give Derrick Pouliot and Simon Despres more time to ripen.
Ehrhoff, meanwhile, gets to ride shot gun with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for a season, attempting to win a Stanley Cup while posting fat stats ahead of another free-agent contract in Summer 2015.
Nothing like winning the hand of a coveted free agent to change the conversation. This was a strong win for GM Jim Rutherford right out of the gate, especially in the cap hit.