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Friday July 1, 2011 10:10 pm

Christian Ehrhoff signs with Sabres for $40 million




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Front Office, NHL

Christian EhrhoffFriday saw a record number of NHL free agent signings, mainly because many teams are scrambling to get players just to reach the salary floor required of them. Money was thrown around relentlessly and new Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula was at the forefront of the spending. He held firm in his promise to build Buffalo back into a contending team as he signed former Vancouver Canucks blue-liner Christian Ehrhoff to a 10 year, $40 million contract.

Ehrhoff was tied for seventh in points among NHL defensemen with his 14 goals and 36 assists. He added two more goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games, second among defensemen. Buffalo’s highest-scoring blue-liner was Tyler Myers, who finished with 37 points but averaged more than a minute and a half less ice-time each game. Ehrhoff will certainly bring an offensive presence to the back end of Buffalo’s attack, especially on the power play.

The dealt itself is front-loaded as Ehrhoff will make $18 million in the first two years alone; which will certainly help the Sabres circumvent the salary cap by retaining Ehrhoff’s services for eight more years afterwards. Ehrhoff will turn 29 on July 6, so this contract will expire when he’s 39. It’s safe to assume that year-by-year he’ll earn what he’s worth as his skills erode. Still, it’s just another case of “creative cap management.”

It still seems funny that some teams structure contracts like these, despite less than a decade ago the owners fought (and allegedly “won”) a new collective bargaining agreement. The contract’s final three years total $3 million, so the circumvention isn’t the worst we’ve seen. But it’s certainly interesting to watch the teams who are willing to make contracts like these and how they shape up against those who “follow in the spirit of the CBA.”

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