Could unrestricted free-agent defenseman Christian Ehrhoff be headed to Columbus?
It’s an interesting report for a number of reasons. First, Columbus could really use the veteran on its blue line. For all the great young talent that the Jackets have up front, their defense—led by Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, David Savard and Ryan Murray—looks pretty sketchy heading into 2015–16. Ehrhoff would immediately step into the top four and enhance their ability to generate offense in transition and on the power play ... assuming he stays healthy. That’s no sure thing for a player who missed 33 games to various injuries last season.
And unless Ehrhoff gets an absolute sweetheart deal, Columbus will need to clear some cap space to make room for him. According to General Fanager, the Blue Jackets have just over $3.7 million of cap space to work with. Ehrhoff, who made $4 million last season on a one-year deal with Pittsburgh, is expected to take slightly less than that after his injury-plagued campaign. Still, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen will want to have some cushion to work with once the season starts, so it’s possible he will be looking to clear out another contract before he signs Ehrhoff.
Of course, it’s also possible that Ehrhoff confirmed this offer simply to light a fire under another suitor that he prefers. Wouldn’t be the first time a player used a reporter for leverage.
Either way, we should expect movement on one of the top available UFAs in short order.