Ehrhoff Extension Likely In January, Huge Ripple Effect For Penguins

The great Elliotte Friedman released his latest edition of 30 thoughts and it had some Penguins nuggets in it.

2. Wednesday is an important day on the NHL calendar, and not just to see which players or coaches are first to break their New Year’s Resolutions.

Come Jan. 1, any player signed to a one-year contract is eligible to be extended. There are some interesting cases to watch. It’s believed Boston did significant work with Torey Krug and Reilly Smith before signing them for this season, while I’ve mentioned before the idea Pittsburgh plans to commit longer to Christian Ehrhoff. I don’t know if anything should be expected immediately, but wouldn’t be surprised if the Penguins take a run at hammering out something with the defender over the next month.

Once again Friedman has brought up the Penguins and Ehrhoff talking about a contract extension in January. By my count this is at least the third time he has specifically mentioned it. I am not in the business of betting against Mr. Friedman so I believe it is likely that Ehrhoff will sign in Pittsburgh.

This contract negotiation has the potential to have a huge impact on how the team moves forward with the trade deadline and beyond. By locking in Ehrhoff it is also in the same motion waving goodbye to Paul Martin for the future. Paul Martin has been terrific in Pittsburgh and it will be tough to see him go but with the number of young defensemen chomping at the bit there is only enough room, especially with Rob Scuderi stuck taking up a roster spot.

While I believe that keeping Martin for the playoff run and letting him walk after the year has value to the Penguins there is one situation to keep an eye on out West and it is a situation that I wrote about earlier in the year .

The Kings and Justin Williams are in talks about a potential contract extensions but Williams has set a soft deadline for those talks

“He had put a soft deadline of New Year’s on getting an extension done with LA,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday’s “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast.

“The Kings have asked for more time as both sides work to try to get it done.”

If the Kings and Williams do not come to terms on an extension it may not be a bad idea to revisit my idea of a Paul Martin for Justin Williams trade. There aren’t many trade options that make sense for the Penguins on the Paul Martin front but this would be one of them. Martin is a rental, Williams is a rental, and the Kings are down a top four defender with the Slava Voynov legal issues that are still pending (trial to start in March).

It is not just an Ehrhoff extension that could make Paul Martin movable. There are many variables at play right now. Simon Despres has displayed a great blend of size and skill this year. Despres’ emergence has been a bright spot on the Penguins blue line.

Additionally, Olli Maatta not being out for the year is a huge plus (assuming that is the right decision),

Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington have shown some positives in their limited play.

I am very interested in watching Pouliot moving forward. In his first few games as an NHL player he was tied down to Rob Scuderi. The past few days he has been working with Kris Letang. This is a development that I am very interested in. If Pouliot and Letang can find success together (no reason they can’t) that too opens the door for that LA Martin idea.

Even if the Penguins keep Martin and he walks at the end of the year (which is fine) this is a defense corp. they can look forward to for many years if Ehrhoff re-signs:

Maatta-Harrington (former successful OHL partners)
Bortuzzo (RFA)

This setup doesn’t have a “bottom pairing”. It has three solid pairings and is extremely cost effective for the near future. Find me a better defense corp. for ~20M.

I would seriously contemplate buying out Rob Scuderi after the season if there are no takers. There is no need for him to continue to take a spot from the caliber of players above. It isn’t ideal to burn cap space to have a guy not play for you but considering how cheap some of the defensemen above come in at it should be a non issue.

Scuderi may be playing better this year for him, but not at the standard for a Stanley Cup contending team. In fact, not even at the standard of a bottom pairing defenseman in the NHL.

You’ll notice Bortuzzo looks great on this chart but small sample size is at play. You may argue that Scuderi’s sample size is also small on this chart, valid point. Except that the argument for Scuderi is that he has played better this year and at an acceptable level when compared to last year. This chart is here to show that even if he did improve, it just isn’t good enough regardless.

The buyout per Cap Geek would be as follows:

Basically for the first two years you are saving money on the cap and freeing up a roster spot for a better player. Then you are paying around 1M of your cap space in those final two years of the buyout. I’m fine with that. The cap will go up, the Penguins will have all of their big contracts signed. Let’s be done with Ray Shero’s parting gift to the Penguins.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with another nugget from Friedman’s 30 thoughts

3. Other situations to keep an eye on: Blake Comeau (can see him as Pascal Dupuis, wanting to stay in a great personal situation), Brenden Dillon (a new team expected to commit), Cody Franson (tough call), Michael Frolik (talks expected), Mike Hoffman (no talks yet, restricted free agent making a step), Jeff Petry (would be a surprise), Mike Santorelli (not sure there are talks yet, although he’s been very good), Jiri Tlusty (talks started, expected to continue but prime trade bait if nothing gets done) and Mats Zuccarello (team is tight to cap, with several important decisions to make).


Jordan Staal is in Pittsburgh tonight. It is nice to see him back on the ice after that horrific leg injury earlier in the year.

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading!

Follow me on twitter

Article source:

Leave a Reply