It was announced this morning that Penguin defender Christian Ehrhoff will be out indefinitely with an undisclosed upper-body injury. This move now puts the Pittsburgh Penguins in a dire position.
With only 17 healthy skaters on the roster and no cap space available, the Penguins will have to play a game down a man. That game will be tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.
It is only after the matchup tonight that the Penguins will be allowed (per NHL rules) to conduct an “emergency call-up.”
So what does this mean for the Pittsburgh Penguins? First off the Penguins will be foced to play the defensive unit of Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Ben Lovejoy, Derrick Pouliot, Ian Cole and Rob Scuderi.
Presumably the Penguins would put Pouliot up in the top four to replace Christian Ehrhoff. However, if the injury proves to be serious this could all but doom the Penguins’ Stanley Cup aspirations.
The short term top four looks acceptable for a playoff team Letang, Martin, Lovejoy and Pouliot. However, the bottom pair is downright putrid.
Initially, I believed that Ian Cole would be a significant upgrade over Robert Bortuzzo, but that has not proved to be the case. Cole has graded out as the Penguins worst defender since coming over, yes worse than Scuderi.
If the injury does prove to be serious, then Christian Ehrhoff will go on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) and his cap hit will be lifted. This will give the Penguins the cap space they desperately need to bring up players from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
While Christian Ehrhoff has not been the offensive force the Penguins envisioned he would be when they signed him, he has been solid this season. Nothing fancy or flashy, but an excellent puck possession player.
Tonight could be a challenge for the (literally) shorthanded Pittsburgh Penguins and only time will tell how long Christian Ehrhoff is out. Hopefully his absence will be short but sources in Pittsburgh say the Penguins are preparing for the worst.
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