In terms of non-rookie defencemen, one could argue that Christian Ehrhoff has been having the best season on the Buffalo Sabres blue line. Judging by our fan picks most people go into games fully expecting him to score or put up points every night and that’s a great sign.
Every defencemen has his off nights, but for the most part Ehrhoff has been reliable on the back end this season. He has played the majority of the season paired with Mark Pysyk, who’s game seems to compliment Ehrhoff’s. In his two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres Ehrhoff has really developed into a two-way defenceman; Is he a top 10 defenceman in this league? No, but he provides the Sabres with good defence and some much needed offence.
Ehrhoff leads all Buffalo Sabres defencemen with 24 points and is only a -9, which is good when you consider how many
goals the Sabres allow a night. His advance stats are also pretty telling. He leads all defencemen who have played 20 games with a 47% Corsi rating and a Shots For of 46.9%, which relates to his ability to keeps his opponents shots to a minimum when he’s on the ice. He also leads the team in ice time netting just under 40% of the game between 24-26 minutes a night.
Perhaps the best part about Christian Ehrhoff is the fact he is already signed long-term – at just $4 million a season – until 2021. He’s not a guy Tim Murray will have to worry about hitting free agency any time soon, and at 31, it’s unlikely he plays out his full contract. If the Buffalo Sabres want to keep him, he is locked up long-term. However, the long-term and cap friendly contract could make him a valuable chip going forward.
He’s likely not going to be in the run for any Norris trophies in the near future, but his strong defencive play can help steady an unstable blue line. If a team like the Edmonton Oilers needs a veteran defenceman, then Ehrhoff is a great guy to go after.
While Christian Ehrhoff seems like the perfect fit for the Buffalo Sabres blue line, the Sabres system is filled with defencive prospects. Mark Pysyk, Nikita Zadorov, Rasmus Ristolainen and Chad Ruhwedel are all guys ready to take that next step on the Sabres blue line. Following them is Jake McCabe and the possibility of landing Aaron Ekblad. Add to the mix Tyler Myers, who may very well become expendable, and the Buffalo Sabres have one very crowded blue line moving forward.
Veteran presence on the blue line is key, especially when you have Pysyk and Ruhwedel, who play a very mature and responsible presence that just shows up from game to game.
If you’re Tim Murray, is Christian Ehrhoff in your future plans going forward?