As we've documented (on two separate occasions), respected hockey insider Elliotte Friedman has said that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Christian Ehrhoff might talk contract extension very soon. Friedman repeated that again, for a third time, in his latest 30 Thoughts:
I’ve mentioned before the idea Pittsburgh plans to commit longer to Christian Ehrhoff. I don’t know if anything should be expected immediately, but wouldn’t be surprised if the Penguins take a run at hammering out something with the defender over the next month.
Our pal Ryan at Hockey Buzz took the next logical step and thought what it would mean for the ripple effect for Paul Martin.
If the Kings and Williams do not come to terms on an extension it may not be a bad idea to revisit my idea of a Paul Martin for Justin Williams trade. There aren't many trade options that make sense for the Penguins on the Paul Martin front but this would be one of them. Martin is a rental, Williams is a rental, and the Kings are down a top four defender with the Slava Voynov legal issues that are still pending (trial to start in March).
That would be very logical, if the assumption that the Kings were willing to move away from Justin Williams. There's no doubt LAK does have a need for a puck-moving defenseman and with Williams and Jarret Stoll both impending UFA's, they might have to face the realization that they don't have the cap space to retain both. However, moving on from last year's Conn Smythe would be a pretty bold move. Wouldn't be shocking if LA, much like the Pens did with Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen last year, just realize they probably will lose the asset to UFA but keep them hoping for a strong postseason that could lead to glory.
But, as Ryan pointed out, with the emergence of Simon Despres this season, the fact that apparently Olli Maatta won't miss the rest of the season and the encouraging debut of Derrick Pouliot, the Penguins are in a good position to attempt to utilize Martin in order to re-balance their excess of defensemen and lack of skilled wingers. Martin has a limited no-trade clause that the team would have to work around, but that would probably be manageable.
Also lost in the shuffle and excitement of a possible trade is just what a major coup it would be to get Ehrhoff re-signed. The player has a $12 million buyout from Buffalo, which allowed him the freedom to not chase dollars or a long contract and surprisingly sign a one year, $4.0 million deal last summer with Pittsburgh. At 32 years old (33 in the summer), Ehrhoff should definitely have another solid 2-3-4 seasons left in the tank.
Ideally his salary would be somewhere in the $5 million range the Pens have paid Martin and Sergei Gonchar for the past 10 seasons, that would seem very fair for team and player. Hopefully too, the Pens won't go for too much term for a player in his 30's.