What Darryl Sutter Doesn't Get About Christian Ehrhoff

I use "Darryl Sutter" and "fetish" together in a sentence + break down Ehrhoff's potential impact.

Darryl Sutter has a fetish for "Vancouver Christian Ehrhoff":

"My memory of him is more of Vancouver. In my mind, that’s how I see him, as a Canuck...Vancouver’s style then with Alain as their coach is closer to our style than any team he’s played on since." (LA Kings Insider, 9/20/15)

"I’ve said it lots—in my mind, I see him in a Canuck jersey. That’s how I see him, because he was on a really good team. Hey, he went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final...I see him on the power play with the Sedins and Edler. It’s almost like last night for me." (LA Kings Insider, 9/28/15)

"When I see Christian, that's how I see him, as a Canuck. I see him and Edler.

"Quite honest, that was not a very good team in Buffalo. That's hard to evaluate. You look at some of those games there and you're like, 'I'm not watching that.' " (LA Times, 10/4/15)

Yet Ehrhoff is more than those Stanley-eyed Vancouver nights. His Buffalo squads were an eyesore, but Christian shone above it all.

Why is this important to the Kings?

First, hoping a 33-year-old regains his form from two years (as opposed to a half-decade ago) is realistic. Now also plausible? Viewing Ehrhoff's relatively poor '14-15 Pittsburgh campaign as an anomaly—if last season was a sudden dip (as opposed to being part of a multi-year lull).

I believe Ehrhoff has the potential to be the best second-pairing defender of the Sutter era. And that's just by approaching his Sabres success.

In the forthcoming table, I compare Christian's 5v5 Corsi For Relative %, dCorsi, and Goals Above Replacement figures to those of selected LA secondary rearguard from 2011-15 (25 GP+, including playoffs). Most of these defensemen (like Ehrhoff) averaged 20+ minutes a game; only a couple were both power play and penalty kill regulars (like Ehrhoff). I didn't include clear number-one Drew Doughty or obvious bottom-pairing blueliners:

LA Kings #2-4 Defensemen, 2011-15

Team Year GP CF% Rel dCorsi GAR
Christian.Ehrhoff BUF 2011-12 66 1.4 0.95 4.87
Jack.Johnson LAK 2011-12 60 -6.27 -8.46 n/a
Rob.Scuderi LAK 2011-12 101 -2.16 -3.14 4.76
Slava.Voynov LAK 2011-12 73 0.99 -1.76 4.55
Willie.Mitchell LAK 2011-12 95 -1.52 -3.48 2.91
Christian.Ehrhoff BUF 2012-13 47 7.3 9.13 6.09
Rob.Scuderi LAK 2012-13 66 -6.99 -7.15 -1.46
Robyn.Regehr LAK 2012-13 30 -5.84 -13.96 n/a
Slava.Voynov LAK 2012-13 66 -2.8 -2.71 6.07
Christian.Ehrhoff BUF 2013-14 79 4.2 5.73 1.57
Jake.Muzzin LAK 2013-14 102 4.46 3.7 8.65
Robyn.Regehr LAK 2013-14 87 -4.2 -4.21 -8.49
Slava.Voynov LAK 2013-14 108 -3.25 -3.85 0.39
Willie.Mitchell LAK 2013-14 94 -2.66 -1.5 -0.05
Alec.Martinez LAK 2014-15 56 -3.54 -1.04 1.09
Brayden.McNabb LAK 2014-15 71 2.75 2.87 0.35
Christian.Ehrhoff PIT 2014-15 49 -1.9 -1.75 -3.3
Jake.Muzzin LAK 2014-15 76 3.47 3.35 12
Robyn.Regehr LAK 2014-15 67 -5.8 -5.96 -6.62

In terms of expectations and usage, Ehrhoff is penciled in to pick up Voynov's second-pairing slack. But the German's possession numbers in Buffalo stand out on their own; they're far superior to the Russian's. Even his injury-riddled worst with the Penguins compares favorably with the disgraced defender's best.

Granted, Ehrhoff's recent GAR is not so spectacular. But even in this instance, he showed well as a Sabre.

Will the offense-minded Ehrhoff replace the offense-minded Voynov, a top-four defenseman?

Not precisely.

"You can't do that," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. (LA Times)

Yeah, you can.

Last year's hampered Ehrhoff was roughly 2013-14 Voynov's equal; at his best, he's top-pairing. Los Angeles would be thrilled with a bounceback in between.

Barring injury and/or serious age-related decline, Ehrhoff and the Kings are set up for a hefty pay-off.

Stats courtesy of Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference, NHL.com, Own the Puck, Puckalytics, Sporting Charts, and War on Ice.