As someone who has been ranting and raving for about a month that the Canes should swoop in and sign Christian Ehrhoff, I was obviously disappointed when it was announced today that he signed a one year deal with Los Angeles for a meager $1.5M. To be clear, in no way do I fault Ron Francis. His patience and the dollar amount very much indicate that he went the route of choosing his destination (as much as possible) not his deal terms. And with that being the case, I doubt that the Canes could have had him even for $2.8-3M. The money was not the issue. He made a choice.
The double whammy is that with him signing with LA, he could also decrease the value of LA’s 1st round pick next summer which the Canes acquired in the Sekera trade. With Sekera gone and the Voynov situation unresolved, the Kings might only have been a Doughty injury away from imploding and making that 1st round pick a pretty good one. The addition of Ehrhoff decreases those odds somewhat.
But the Canes obviously need to move forward, and I think it will be interesting to see how Francis proceeds. Right now, I would slot the defensemen as Hainsey/Faulk, Liles/Wisniewski, Kid tryout winner/Jordan. Jordan could easily slide to #7 if two kids excel in training camp. Ron Francis is on record as preferring to leave spots open to be won in competition in camp, but I still have to wonder if he will add one more veteran defenseman on the cheap. That would still leave one spot open for the kids (either Jordan or the veteran can slide in and out of the lineup as needed).
If Francis was at least considering Ehrhoff, it would have precluded making a smaller addition until that was ruled out which is it is now. The other big name floating around is Cody Franson. His price has to be much lower at this point, but I still would be surprised to see the Canes go this direction. He is a right shot offensive defenseman that has some overlap with Wisniewski’s skill set. And he is not the greatest of skaters. Finally, he could still be a bit pricey and want a longer term. The beauty of Ehrhoff was that at only one year, he would not have plugged a spot that Hanifin, Fleury or one of the other kids might need soon.
Enter Tim Gleason. He is a known quantity in the dressing room. He brings another penalty killer. He was good in that role with the Canes last year. And his price should be right. Last season, he earned $1.2M. He could just become the mid-2000s Glen Wesley who signed a couple consecutive inexpensive one-year deals because he still wanted to play even if it was in a reduced role. If I get a few minutes on Monday, I was going to dig through the list of options to see who else might be available, but I using the requirements of inexpensive, veteran and preferable penalty kill capable, Gleason could fit.
Whether it is Tim Gleason or someone else, in terms of competing in 2015-16, I would prefer to add one more veteran defenseman for about $1M or less. At that price, you can easily healthy scratch them if too many kids rise up. And you ideally want a #7 and possibly #8 once you get some injuries sitting in the press box who is a veteran, not a young player whose development would be better served playing 20+ minutes per night in the AHL.