Christian Ehrhoff signs 10-year deal with Sabres

Less than 24 hours after acquiring the rights to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on the verge of free agency, the Buffalo Sabres locked up the blueliner to a 10-year deal worth $40 million.

Yes, you read that right.

10 years. $40 million. Christian Ehrhoff.

“I was originally going to wait and see what was available on the free agent market,” said Christian Ehrhoff. “After the Sabres acquired my rights and I spoke with Terry Pegula and Darcy Regier, I did my due diligence on the team and I was very impressed. I called some former teammates and others in the NHL who also had great things to say and I was aware that Robyn Regehr had waived his no-trade clause in his contract this week to join the Sabres. My goal is to win the Stanley Cup, and after the offer I received from Buffalo, I believe this is the best place to make it happen.”

The deal, which has been criticized by much of the media due to it’s length and front-loaded aspects, is the longest the Sabres have ever handed out to a free agent. Ehrhoff will make $18 million over the first two years of the deal.

The 29 year old defenseman, who made $12.3 million over the last 3 years on his expiring deal, will be getting a slight raise in salary during the heart of the contract.

Here’s the breakdown, via Bob McKenzie of TSN.

2011-12: $2,000,000 + $8,000,000 signing bonus
2012-13: $3,000,000 + $5,000,000 signing bonus
2013-14: $4,000,000
2014-15: $4,000,000
2015-16: $4,000,000
2016-17: $4,000,000
2017-18: $3,000,000
2018-19: $1,000,000
2019-20: $1,000,000
2020-21: $1,000,000

Ehrhoff will be 39 years old when the deal is set to expire. It includes a no-move clause and a modified no-trade clause. A lot of defenseman play until that age, but it remains to be seen if that will happen. Maybe Chris will be sick of winning Stanley Cups by then.

It is funny to be on the other side of the coin for once. When this came out, many went bat-shit crazy, calling it circumventing the salary cap. Some even compared it to the offer Ilya Kovalchuk signed as an unrestricted free agent last summer. Key differences:

  • Kovalchuk signed his deal in mid-July. Ehrhoff hadn’t hit the market yet.
  • 17 years is much longer than 10 years. 10 year deals are almost frequent now.
  • The front-loading in Kovalchuk’s contract was all salary. The last few years were obvious tack-ons. Ehrhoff’s deal doesn’t sway much in actual salary, it’s signing bonuses that throw the number up.

So basically, people need to quit whining and stop acting like this deal is an affront to the game in general. Ehrhoff, who finished top 10 in scoring and 14th in plus-minus among defenseman, will have a reasonable cap hit and get a chunk of change up-front. The deal equates to something like “We’ll give you a bunch of money to sign here because we know it’s not the best place to come to, but we’ll pay you about what you’re worth if you do.”

It’s a breathtaking deal as a Sabres fan. Sure, they made moves for Regehr and previously Brad Boyes, but this is the first free agent deal that has been signed to make the team better. This is tangible evidence that Darcy Regier can go sign whoever, no matter the cost. Having that assurance as free agency opens, well… anything is possible now.

As a Buffalo sports fan, that’s an incredible change in philosophy. It’s nice, isn’t it?

Posted on July 1, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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