The Pittsburgh Penguins significantly upgraded their blue line Tuesday by coming to terms with free-agent defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on a one-year deal worth $4 million, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
The Penguins likely will lose veteran defensemen Matt Niskanen and/or Brooks Orpik to unrestricted free agency, so it was important for new general manager Jim Rutherford to sign an offensive blueliner when the market opened.
Ehrhoff is an effective power-play quarterback, moves the puck up ice extremely well, is capable of playing 25 minutes per game against the opposing team’s top forwards and provides valuable playoff experience.
He tallied 33 points (six goals, 27 assists) in 79 games for the Buffalo Sabres last season. The Sabres used a compliance buyout on Ehrhoff last week, making him a UFA just three seasons after signing him to a 10-year, $40 million deal.
That deal was enormously front-loaded, so it’s not a huge surprise that Ehrhoff was willing to take less money to join a Stanley Cup contender. A good 2014-15 season in Pittsburgh would set up the German defenseman for another massive payday.