Don’t get me wrong, Christian Ehrhoff has probably been the Sabres best defenseman over the past two years, but does anyone else wonder why his offensive numbers have gone significantly down since he left Vancouver? I mean, once you sign a 10 year, 40 million dollar deal, you better live up to the hype, and up to this point I believe that Ehrhoff has failed to do this. Entering his third year of his contract, Ehrhoff has only scored a combined 10 goals with the Sabres and needs to find his scoring touch for the Sabres this upcoming season.
After being drafted in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Christian Ehrhoff spent parts of four seasons in the DEL before making his NHL debut in the 2003-04 season. Ehrhoff would then spend the next five seasons with the Sharks, before he would sign a deal with the Canucks. In his two seasons in Vancouver, Ehrhoff lit it up, recording a combined 28 goals and 94 points, helping the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup Finals. The following off season, Ehrhoff would sign a monstrous deal with the Sabres, keeping the Dman with the blue and gold for ten seasons.
During his first two seasons with the Sabres, Ehrhoff has had his ups and downs. Although he hasn’t impressed us offensively like he did in Vancouver, he does a fantastic job at eating up minutes. In the 2012-13 season, Ehrhoff averaged 25:11 of ice time per game, the most by a Sabre since Alexi Zhitnik averaged 26:32 during the 2002-03 season. Aside from finishing 10th in the NHL in total average ice time, Ehrhoff finished with the 8th most shots by all Dmen in the NHL with 102 shots. He also led the team in goals, assists and points.
An area where Ehrhoff needs to improve is on the power play. Ehrhoff only managed to tally one goal with the man advantage this past season and nine points in total. In Vancouver, Ehrhoff had the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler who were crucial to his success. In Buffalo, all Ehrhoff really has in Thomas Vanek. This means that Ehrhoff must make the most of his opportunities and hit the net! So many times the past two seasons, pucks have been put wide of the net and possession is totally wasted for the Sabres. Ehrhoff has a slap shot over 100 MPH. He must use that to his advantage and put more pucks on net.
One thing that may help Ehrhoff is the acquisition of Jamie McBain. Although McBain is coming off a sub par season, he is poised for a breakout season with the Sabres. Although it is yet to be seen who will be Ehrhoff’s partner on the back end, you would have to imagine it would be McBain. This would be a huge boost to the Buffalo power play as well. McBain would be the perfect set up man for Ehrhoff, as both Dmen have great vision, passing skills, and offensive minds. I expect that Ehrhoff will have his most productive season offensively with the Sabres and maybe even record double digit goals.
With training camp just around the corner, Ehrhoff will have lots of time to gel with his new defensive partner. Even though Ehrhoff hasn’t reached his offensive potential with the Sabres, I believe that this will be the year we see Ehrhoff breakout. If the Sabres’ defensive group can stay healthy, and Ehrhoff gets paired with an offensive minded defenseman, this will be the year we see Christian Ehrhoff excel with the Sabres and be a crucial part of their success.