Will Christian Ehrhoff’s long wait for a new contract end with him joining the Columbus Blue Jackets?
It seems that there have been discussions between the two sides, according the Columbus Dispatch’s sources. It was previously reportedly that Columbus went after Dougie Hamilton, Paul Martin, and Kevin Shattenkirk over the course of the offseason in an attempt to bolster their defense, so Ehrhoff would be the latest in a long line of targets.
The problem at this point is that Columbus is close to the cap after acquiring and signing Brandon Saad. Ehrhoff’s agent has already said that his client is open to another one-year contract after completing his $4 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2014-15 campaign. If he’s willing to be accommodating from a financial standpoint as well, then the Blue Jackets might be able to fit him in under the ceiling.
It’s possible that this situation will drag on as Ehrhoff might wait to see if other more lucrative options materialize, assuming that there aren’t already such prospects on the table.
Ehrhoff was limited to 49 games in 2014-15 due to injuries and finished with three goals and 14 points.
With Paul Martin gone and current unrestricted free agent Christian Ehrhoff unlikely to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 21-year-old defenseman Derrick Pouliot has been presented with a golden opportunity.
The top-end blueline prospect got his first taste of NHL action last season, scoring two goals and seven points in 34 NHL contests. It made him realize that he needs to be in even better physical condition going forward, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In order to do that he’s been training with fitness guru and former NHLer Gary Roberts. He’s also made substantial changes to his diet.
“It’s about getting my conditioning up so if I get caught out there I’m not dying trying to keep up,” Pouliot said. “It’s a little bit of a lifestyle change. I mean I’m not really a picky eater.”
Pouliot’s goal is to become a two-way defenseman and take on more, or at least “harder,” minutes after averaging 17:32 minutes per game last season.
Even with two veteran defensemen gone though, he will still be competing with Olli Maatta, Tim Erixon, and Brian Dumoulin for one of potentially two or three roster spots.
Olli Maatta says he doesn’t look back on the 2014-15 campaign.
That’s probably a good thing.
After a year in which he had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck, got the mumps and had season-ending shoulder surgery, the young Finnish blueliner only wants to look forward to next season, and get healthy for training camp.
“We’re on the schedule,” Maatta said this week, per NHL.com. “Obviously the goal is to be ready for training camp. Everything is going as we planned, so that’s the goal.”
With Paul Martin now in San Jose and Christian Ehrhoff still entertaining free agent offers, the Pens will certainly need Maatta on the back end — and for him to stay injury-free. After scoring nine points in 20 games last year, the shoulder ailment sidelined him on Dec. 6 and the decision to have surgery was made in mid-January.
That essentially snuffed out what many thought would be an impressive campaign; as a rookie in ’13-14, Maatta showed great promise by scoring nine goals and 29 points in 78 games, finishing fifth in Calder voting.
The Pittsburgh Penguins took care of some business on Wednesday, signing Beau Bennett to a one-year deal and Dominik Simon to a three-year, entry-level contract.
Financial terms for Simon’s pact weren’t revealed, but the team shared the fact that Bennett’s contract is worth $800K in 2015-16.
Bennett (pictured) has dealt with a slew of injuries so far in his career. The 23-year-old set a career-high for games played with just 49 regular season contests in 2014-15, yet he was limited to 12 points. The Penguins are likely banking on better future results for the 20th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.
Simon, 20, was selected 137th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. The Penguins singled out his work at the 2015 World Championships:
Simon, the youngest player on the Czech team at the 2015 World Championships, was paired on a line with the team’s most senior member, former Penguin Jaromir Jagr. Simon finished that tournament with six points (1G-5A) in 10 games.
That’s not the only blast from the Penguins’ past, as he played for HC Plzen last season, a team owned by former Pen Martin Straka.
They had to trade Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic to get it, but the Boston Bruins finally have some breathing room under the salary cap.
The question now is if they can take advantage.
“If we have any opportunities come up, we now have the flexibility to act on them,” club president Cam Neely told CSN New England. “If something happens now all the way through training camp where we feel we can improve our club, we have a better chance of adding without saying, ‘Okay, now who do we have to subtract?'”
With the loss of Hamilton, which came less than a year after the loss of Johnny Boychuk, the Bruins’ defense is a major question mark heading into 2015-16.
While GM Don Sweeney has called it “a great opportunity” for some of the “kids” — and Neely doesn’t disagree — Neely insists that “by no means are we closing the books and saying this is what we’ve got.”
Unrestricted free agents on defense include Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Franson. The former is willing to sign a one-year deal, which may be attractive. But Franson, a right shot like Hamilton and Boychuk, may be a better fit.
The Bruins are believed to have made a bid for Mike Green, also a right shot, who signed with Detroit on July 1.
Related: Sweeney explains Hamilton trade: ‘We extended Dougie a very significant contract offer’