By John Vogl
From the moment he was hired as general manager, Tim Murray has contemplated buying out defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. The compliance buyout process is done.
Murray told The Buffalo News this morning that the defenseman would be bought out, as long as Ehrhoff declined the waiver process. Ehrhoff's agent, Rick Curran, told The News that Ehrhoff has declined and filled out the buyout paperwork.
Ehrhoff had seven years remaining on a 10-year, $40 million contract. He is now an unrestricted free agent.
Ehrhoff's front-loaded contract combined with the salary cap recapture rules created in the last collective bargaining agreement made the defenseman virtually untradeable. In short, money saved against the salary cap on long-term deals would be tacked on to the team's cap if a player retires before the deal is up. Ehrhoff made $10 million in 2011-12 and $8 million in '12-13 but had a cap hit of just $4 million.
It's quite possible the 31-year-old won't finish his deal, which runs until 2021, and the Sabres' would be punished with a cap penalty. A breakdown of the penalies, via CapGeek.com, is available here.
The compliance buyout means Ehrhoff is wiped completely from the Sabres' books.
"Since I got here we’ve talked about this," Murray, who was hired in January, told The News this morning in Buffalo Niagara International Airport. "We’ve talked about his contract. We’ve talked about the repercussions of the contract with the penalties that the league has put on it. It’s been an ongoing discussion."
Aside from all that, Ehrhoff simply didn't want to be in Buffalo during the rebuild, and Murray said the defenseman's play didn't warrant keeping him.
"The fact that he quite frankly doesn’t want to be here makes it easy," Murray told The News. "I’ve said at the start that if you don’t want to be here we’ll make it happen. He’s made I believe $22 million in three years and feels that we’re not going in the right direction, but he really hasn’t had much part in the direction the team has gone. So time to move on."
Curran said his client was "surprised" by the Sabres' decisions. As for Ehrhoff's other thoughts, Curran said: "He had a few but they’re his. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to share any of it. He had a few. He was a little surprised, but that’s it.
"I was advised late last night and found out this morning that was the plan."
The buyout makes Buffalo's uphill climb to the salary cap floor even tougher. According to CapGeek, the Sabres' cap number for next season is $30.4 million. They need to be at $51 million on opening night and have restricted free agents Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno to sign. Buffalo will need to do a lot more than that to make up the $20.6 million.