Apr 8, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (10) skates up ice with the puck against the Detroit Red Wings at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Ehrhoff Signs 1-Year Deal With Pittsburgh Penguins

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Christian Ehrhoff is the first big name off the board in this year’s free agency.

Days after his contract was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres, Ehrhoff has agreed in principle to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Over his career, Ehrhoff has 313 points (69 goals, 244 assists) in 692 games, scoring a career-high 50 points with the Vancouver Canucks in the 2010-11 season.

In Christian Ehrhoff, the Penguins get a veteran defenceman who can help the team get back to the Stanley Cup. At his best, Ehrhoff, who will turn 32 on Sunday, is a smooth skater who is strong offensively and can eat minutes.

He can help fill a void on the blue line with injuries to Olli Maatta and prospects Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington. Once they come back and become regulars, Christian Ehrhoff can be a mentor to those players.

This is a brilliant first move by Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. In Christian Ehrhoff, he gets a quality defenceman who’s got something to prove since he initiated his own compliance buyout.

Now, he has a chance to start over, and a short-term contract should motivate him to perform.

One could guess Rutherford had some help in getting Ehrhoff from Marcel Goc, a fellow German who came to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline.

As a result, it means the Penguins have pretty much said goodbye to unrestricted free agent Matt Niskanen. With Ehrhoff’s signing, there’s no way the Penguins can really afford to keep him anymore, especially not at the reported $6M asking price over seven years.

That number also likely means Brooks Orpik will be playing elsewhere next season, unless Rutherford gets him at a price below the $3.75 million he had been making.

The Penguins now have $10.6 million in salary cap space left, but they only have 15 players signed.

Keep it locked on to Too Many Men on the Site for all the latest in free agency.

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