It was June 29, 2011 when then Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier made a deal to acquire defenseman Christian Ehrhoff from the New York Islanders after New York failed to sign him to a contract extension.
Now, three years to the day since his acquisition by the organization, it appears that Ehrhoff’s time in Buffalo is in its final hours.
According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Buffalo Sabres have begun the process of using their final compliance buyout available to them to buyout the remaining term of Ehrhoff’s contract, thus making the defenseman an unrestricted free agent.
BUF has initiated compliance buyout procedures on Christian Ehrhoff. Not official just yet but BUF has begun the process.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 29, 2014
Ehrhoff, 31, signed a 10-year, $40 million contract with the Sabres a day before free agency began in 2011. It was during a time when the Sabres organization felt they were on cusp of something special. Oh how wrong they were.
The Sabres have been on a massive decline over the past couple of seasons, bottoming out last year when they finished with the worst record in the league. It’s expected that the team will once again be “fighting” for the number one overall selection in 2015.
The buyout news comes out of nowhere, but the reason for it makes sense to those who think on it.
With Ehrhoff under contact until the 2020-2021 season, the Sabres could have faced a major issue if he were to have retired prior to the end of his contract. Due to the collective bargaining agreements new cap recapture penalty, the Sabres would’ve been on the hook for a large chunk of change should he retire before the deal was complete.
The penalty would’ve been a lot higher if he were to have been traded, and then retire before playing out his contract.
Ehrhoff does have the option to not go on waivers or be bought out if he so chooses. However, with the Sabres being at the bottom of the league, one has to expect Ehrhoff to allow the buyout to happen.
# Sabres Ehrhoff has the option to not go on #NHL waivers. Won't get his buyout agreement until he notifies club he is opting out of waivers
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) June 29, 2014
Sabres GM Tim Murray clearly didn’t want to have that cloud hanging over his team’s head during a period when he expects his organization to be competing for a championship.
The buyout of Ehrhoff will be Buffalo’s second and final compliance buyout after the team used its first on forward Ville Leino, who also signed with the team that same summer.
Though his salary won’t count against the cap, the Sabres will be on the hook to pay Ehrhoff $18.6 million between now and the 2027-28 season.
Sound off Sabres fans. What do you think of the news regarding the buyout of Christian Ehrhoff? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.