The Buffalo Sabres haven’t landed a big star in Terry Pegula’s brief run as their new owner, but the team has clearly been willing to make bold moves. During the trade deadline, they weren’t shy to overspend a bit to acquire hot-and-cold forward Brad Boyes. They continued that trend by sending their 2012 fourth round pick to the New York Islanders to earn Christian Ehrhoff’s negotiating rights last night.
Sabres GM Darcy Regier would probably be happy to give up that pick if it means landing the hard-shooting German defenseman, but that remains a big if. Still, there seems to be an air of optimism around the situation as Ehrhoff polls former and potential new teammates about Buffalo and the Sabres franchise.
Ehrhoff, one of the premier defensemen set to enter Friday’s free agent market, has contacted former teammates with ties to the Sabres to learn more about Buffalo, which acquired his rights via trade Wednesday night.
“So far, it’s been positive,” Regier said in HSBC Arena. “He has initiated his own discovery on Buffalo. He has played with some players, he’s contacted a couple of former teammates, Mike Grier … he’s played with some other guys, Jochen [Hecht] as well in international arena. He’s doing that work, and his wife is involved with him. Kim and Terry [Pegula] are involved, Lindy [Ruff] and myself. So far it’s been positive.”
“When we examined the prospects of going into the open market and competing with all the other teams, we decided that we would try and get a head start,” Regier said. “It’s costly. A fourth-round pick is significant. It’s not something we’ve done in the past, but it’s an advantage that we plan on making pay off.”
The Islanders reportedly gave Ehrhoff a deadline to decide if he would accept their alleged five-year, $23 million-plus offer (which he did not, of course). Regier said that he won’t take that track with Ehrhoff.
“I’m not big on deadlines and drawing lines in the sand. We’ll work with him,” Regier said. “He’s going to discuss the situation more with his wife, with his agent, and we will hear back at some point this afternoon.”
If word leaks about Ehrhoff’s decision sometime this afternoon, we’ll let you know. Either way, we’ll probably have a better idea about what he’s thinking on Friday (or a few days/weeks/months later) when he signs what will probably be a very lucrative new contract.