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Vulgar Statistics: Acquisitions By The Numbers: Christian Ehrhoff

07/11/11
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If you missed it, last week I took a closer look at new center-turned-winger-turned-center? Ville Leino.  This time around, since he also has a somewhat intriguing contract, I’m looking at Christian Ehrhoff.


The Sabres decided that Ehrhoff was worth $40 million over ten years with a lot of that being paid up front.  What did they get?  Unlike Leino, Ehrhoff has a pretty good body of work to his name.

Ehrhoff came into the league during the 2003-2004 season with the San Jose Sharks, which puts him at 29 years old as of July 6th.  He’s 6’2″ tall and 203 pounds, which makes him big, but not gargantuan.  He isn’t the type of player that’s going to punish opposing forwards with crushing hits along the boards.

What we do have in Ehrhoff is a great skater who is roughly half a point per game both in the regular season and the playoffs:

  • Regular Season – 500 games played, 53 goals, 173 assists, 226 points.  (+74)
  • Playoffs – 73 games played, 7 goals, 27 assists, 34 points.  (-12)
  • International (non-Juniors) Play – 46 games played, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points (+/- not given)

A few notes; how much of his team worst -13 rating in last years playoffs can be blamed on his injured shoulder is unclear.  And I’m not going to crucify him for putting up mediocre numbers on a German national team that just isn’t very good.

Coming in at around .5 points per game is great for an offensive blue-liner, but I think goal and assist totals are the least interesting things to look at when analyzing defensemen.  One of the stats that I think is very intriguing, especially with offensive defensemen is a stat that I completely made up last year.

After years of watching shots from the point look like they were aimed by stormtroopers, I started investigating the accuracy of every defenseman on the team.  One of the things I found last season is that Weber, Leopold, and Morrisonn all had equivalent or better Net-Hitting Percentages than the departed Lydman and Tallinder, which showed in our improved power play and increased goal scoring from the defensive corps.  It will remain to be seen whether we’ll miss Montador’s Net-Hitting percentage of 76.1%, but I think if you put Montador up against Ehrhoff it’s a no-brainer which is the better offensive player.  (Hint: Not Montador.)

The big knock that Ehrhoff gets is that despite his size he isn’t a very physical defenseman.  I referred earlier to his lack of hitting, and his pedestrian 54 hits last season bear that out.  But I see physicality a couple different ways, and I think that Ehrhoff’s 108 blocked shots show that there is some grittiness to his game.

It’s no secret that Ehrhoff was one of Vancouver’s go-to defensemen, logging an average of 23:59 minutes a game.  And it’s also not surprising that his 3:33 minutes of power play time were second only to Alexander Edler.  What was surprising to me was that Ehrhoff, billed as an offensive guy, also managed to log 2:08 per game on the penalty kill.  It’s not a big number, but it’s a solid number, and having a bunch of guys that can fill in on the penalty kill is never a bad thing.

Final Thoughts:

To put it simply, I like the Ehrhoff signing a lot.  Some people aren’t happy with the length of the contract, or the money we’re shelling out his first two seasons and others don’t think he’s a top tier defenseman worth $4.0M a year.  I look at it the same way that Punch Imlach did forty years ago.  If a move can be made that improves the team, even only 5%, then I’m all for it.  And swapping out Montador for Ehrhoff definitely improves the team.

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