The day after signing Kevin Bieksa to a 5 year, $23 M deal, Vancouver has traded Christian Ehrhoff’s negotiating rights to the New York Islanders for a 4th round pick.
It’s been widely speculated that the Canucks would have to visit a “2 out of 3 scenario” when trying to re-sign Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff, and Sami Salo. “It became apparent to us that we weren’t going to be able to sign Christian by July 1 and, as you know, once July 1 comes, there are obviously no guarantees of any kind,” said Canucks assistant GM, Laurence Gilman (who handles many of the team’s contract negotiations). Ehrhoff was looking for more money than Kevin Bieksa – a large upgrade on the $3.1 M he made in 2010-11. Christian scored 42 points in 2009-10 with the Canucks, and improved to 50 points last season.
Gillis showed his hardball player agent side on Tuesday when he alluded to their difficulty to bring Ehrhoff under contract. “Playing on this team is more important than individual compensation and that’s our expectation with everybody. It will work with some and it may not work with others. If he (Ehrhoff) is unwilling to accept what we think is fair and allows us to be competitive, then we’ll move in a different direction.”
It’s likely that Christian will haul $5 M or more from either the Islanders or another team after Friday. The Islanders have until 9 am Friday to cement something with the offensive-minded defender. The Canucks, for their part, don’t appear to be panicking whatsoever. There is an intriguing number of options set to become available in Free Agency, such as Roman Hamrlik, James Wisniewski, Ian White, Steve Montador and former Canucks Ed Jovanovski, Brent Sopel and Bryan McCabe. “We’ll take it as it comes,” stated Gillis. I’m unsure if there is going to be a defenceman out there who can help us. We’ll see what’s there and available.”
During the offseason, there are bound to be detractors who will point to the Canucks inability to sign Ehrhoff as a reason why they won’t perform as well in 2011-12. To be frank, I was slightly disappointed with Ehrhoff’s contributions in the postseason. The Canuck powerplay was a staple all season long, but part of it’s disappearance in the Finals with the Bruins has to fall on his shoulders. No other defender had more time on the powerplay, and Ehrhoff was largely invisible during the series, if not noticed for a few defensive breakdowns. In 23 games, he posted 2 goals and 10 assists for 12 points, and sported a minus 13 rating.
Finally, it appears Sami Salo is close to signing a contract with the club. Though he only played in 27 games last season due to his Achilles tendon tear, Gillis hinted the two sides are close. “Sami Salo, we’ll have for all of next season, hopefully, and not what we just had. I think Keith Ballard is going to be a good player for us next year and I think Chris Tanev can step up and play more minutes and have a more active role.” The Canucks currently sit at more than $51 M in contract obligations for next season, with approximately $13 M left to stay under the cap ceiling.