On Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks traded the negotiating rights of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the New York Islanders. The Islanders gave up a fourth-round pick in the trade, which gives them exclusive negotiating rights with Ehrhoff until Friday.
If the Islanders are unable to sign Ehrhoff before free agency opens on Friday, he will become an unrestricted free agent. He will be free to negotiate and sign with any team he wants, meaning New York's trade could be for naught when all is said and done.
If Ehrhoff does indeed hit the open market, the Detroit Red Wings may be one of the first teams to give him a call. With Brian Rafalski retiring earlier in the offseason, the Red Wings need to sign a top-four defenseman, and according to the New York Times' Chris Botta, Ehrhoff may be just the man to replace Rafalski.
Word is the Red Wings would offer Ehrhoff their Rafalski slot. Up to Garth to make sure he closes deal in next 48 hours.
I'm not quite sure if "Rafalski slot" means the $6 million a year Rafalski was making or if that is simply referring to Rafalski's slot in the lineup. I don't see Ehrhoff as a player worth $6 million a year, but he would be a good addition to the Red Wings' defense. Of course, with guys like Joni Pitkanen, Kevin Bieksa, Andrei Markov and Eric Brewer all re-signing with their teams recently, perhaps the Red Wings will have to overpay a bit to land the player they want considering there aren't a ton of options out there.
For Ehrhoff to even be an option for the Red Wings he will have to not sign a deal with the Islanders before Friday. They may give him a very nice contract offer to ensure their trade wasn't pointless, but if I'm Ehrhoff I would wait to see what the Red Wings have to offer. After all, would you rather play for a team like Detroit and skate alongside Nicklas Lidstrom, or would you rather play for a team like the Islanders, which have the lowest average attendance in the league? Regardless of the money involved, the decision seems pretty easy to me.