Why World Cup is NHL audition for Team Europe's Christian Ehrhoff

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff has three assists for Team Europe during the World Cup of Hockey. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

TORONTO -- Somewhere in Germany, a young girl is waiting patiently for the World Cup of Hockey to end. Christian Ehrhoff's oldest daughter is, of course, hoping the best for her father and the rest of Team Europe as they try to solve the mighty puzzle that is Team Canada in the tourney finals.

But more than that, the Ehrhoff family, which includes 7-year-old Leni and her two younger sisters, is waiting to see what happens next once the Team Europe jerseys are packed away.

Will the phone ring?

Who will be on the other end?

What will the school look like in the city of the NHL GM who makes that call because he has been suitably impressed by Ehrhoff's play?

Last year, Leni Ehrhoff started school in Germany but transferred to Los Angeles when the veteran defenseman signed late in the offseason with the Kings. She then attended classes briefly in Chicago, after Ehrhoff was dealt to the Blackhawks at the trade deadline, before finishing up the school year back in Germany.

It is part of the business, to be sure, but in the midst of this tournament Ehrhoff finds himself in the unique, if not unnerving, position of basically auditioning on the world stage for 30 NHL teams as an unrestricted free agent.

Team Europe teammate and German countryman Dennis Seidenberg was in the same boat entering the tournament, and he discussed his situation Wednesday afternoon.

"I think some days are easier than others, but for the most part you just try to focus on your game, and that's all you can do and should do because otherwise you just mess yourself up and make it hard on yourself," said Seidenberg, whose family is in Boston, where he's been playing since he was traded to the Bruins during the 2009-10 season.

Still, Seidenberg said he never considered skipping this tournament while his future was uncertain.

"It was no question in my mind I was going to be here, whether I had a contract or not," he said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play against all those teams, the best teams in the world, and it's been a lot of fun so far."

Literally minutes after Seidenberg finished his interview and left the media room, it was revealed that he'd agreed to a one-year deal with the New York Islanders.

So that leaves Ehrhoff, a 34-year-old native of Moers, Germany.

According to a source, two Eastern Conference teams and one Western Conference team have ramped up their interest in the puck-moving defenseman, who has three assists and is averaging 13:56 in ice time per night for Team Europe.

"Once the tournament is over I'm going to talk to my agent, and we're going to figure out the next step then," Ehrhoff said Wednesday as the team prepares for a must-win game Thursday night in Game 2 of the best-of-three finals against undefeated Canada, which won Game 1 on Tuesday, 3-1. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for Saturday.

"Right now my focus is solely on Team Europe," Ehrhoff said.

Both Ehrhoff and Seidenberg played at an Olympic qualifying tournament about a month ago, where they helped Germany qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, before joining their new hockey brethren at the World Cup.

While the tournament has unfolded, NHL training camps have opened and exhibition games have been played. Lineups are being formed.

Still, Ehrhoff insists he isn't fretting about what might happen after the last World Cup game is played.

"No, not really, because I feel like I'm in good shape right now so I already have an advantage in that kind of way," Ehrhoff said. "Like I said, I'm not in any kind of hurry. I'm focused on Team Europe right now, and we'll take care of the rest once the tournament is done, hopefully Saturday."