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Sabres use compliance buyout on Christian Ehrhoff

Jun 29, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

Christian Ehrhoff Getty Images

Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray is pulling out all the stops to make his mark.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Sabres will be using their second compliance buyout on defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.

Ehrhoff, 31, signed a 10-year, $40 million deal with Buffalo in 2011, the same summer they signed forward Ville Leino to a six-year, $27 million deal. The Sabres used their first compliance buyout on Leino on June 18.

Update (3:45 p.m. ET): Sabres make it official – they’ve used a compliance buyout on Ehrhoff.

While buying out Leino was expected, the Ehrhoff move came out of nowhere. Two seasons ago he was Buffalo’s top blue liner and defensive point producer. This past season he struggled a bit scoring six goals and adding 27 assists for a Sabres team that was worst in the league.

While Ehrhoff’s play was mostly fine, Ehrhoff was subject to the league’s cap recapture penalty if his career ended before the contract was up. That means the Sabres would’ve been punished against the salary cap in a big way if he was out of hockey before the 2020-21 season when the deal ended. CapGeek.com has different ways it could’ve broke down.

The buyout is a compliance buyout and his $4 million cap hit won’t be on the books, but the Sabres will be paying him $12 million until 2027-28.

Ehrhoff will now be free to be signed as a free agent on July 1 and he’ll have no shortage of suitors. He’s capable of running a power play and playing big minutes. He’ll compete with Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen for  big free agent dollars.

  1. hosewater2 - Jun 29, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    He may be right handed but he’s a left shot.

    • Joe Yerdon - Jun 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Brain fart. Thanks.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        Hey Joe, call Tim Murray and find out if they even tried trading him. This makes no sense. I’m sure the Canucks would love to have him back considering he was the straw that stirred the drink for them on the back end in 2011. The best move of the MG era…

      • billsin20xx - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        I’ll bet they didn’t want to trade him because of the cap penalty if he retires early, it will all still go back to the sabres.
        Another Regier mess they have to clean up!

      • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        @Bills20xx Stick to football. You know crap about hockey.

  2. cvincent14 - Jun 29, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Now is Detroit’s chance to grab that top 4 dman without giving up anything but cap space. Get er done Kenny!

    • bruceeff - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      While Ehrhoff would be an improvement on defense, Ken Holland and Mike Babcock have mentioned numerous times that they want a right-shooting defenseman and Ehrhoff shoots lefty. Both Niskanen and Ehrhoff’s price tags will be prohibitive. Dan Boyle is a much more likely, and gettable target.

    • billsin20xx - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      “error”hof will never be an improvement on defense for a team, he will only be an improvement on a powerplay.
      I remember when the Sabres got him someone on here called him error-hof and I didn’t get it, after watching him (this year especially) I totally understand now…

      • areaman714 - Jun 29, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        That nickname started with Nucks fans. Ehrhoff played there two seasons and scored a cumulative total of 94 points and had a +/- of +55. He clearly sucked there.

      • jjl9999 - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:46 AM

        San Jose fans just call him “error.” DW basically gave him to the Canucks as a cap dump.

      • skr213 - Jun 30, 2014 at 6:12 PM

        Hey “areaman714″ that nickname did NOT start with Nuck fans. That was what we all called him when he played for the Sharks. I could show you a zillion text messages between my buddies and I that each would just be one word: “Errorhoff!!!” and each would signify another ef up by that fool. I pity the team that takes him next.

  3. buffbry - Jun 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    I will almost guarantee he will be a red wing by Tuesday morning early. it’s a perfect fit, even at a 5-6 million cap hit

  4. capsnbohs23 - Jun 29, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Come on down to DC

  5. tarotsujimoto74 - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    As a Sabres fan, I do not understand this move at all, I guess it’ll help us lock up the first or second pick next year, but he was on a very trade-able contract.

    • channelguy - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      If he was on a tradeable contract, they would have traded him instead of eating the buyout. Obviously, no one would bite.

      • tarotsujimoto74 - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        I don’t entirely understand the ramifications of the cap recapture penalty, but apparently it puts us in a no win situation in regards to keeping him or trading him and the value offered in trades wasn’t worth the looming threat of the penalty.

      • valoisvipers - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        I don’t get it. Why is Buffalo worried about a cap penalty when they are 18 million short of the cap floor.It is money that they will be hard pressed to spend as no quality UFA will want to play on a rebuilding team, especially one located in Buffalo.

      • 19to77 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:56 PM

        Because he’s not retiring this season. This isn’t about the here and now. The recapture penalty is designed to punish teams for frontloading contracts on players who then retire early. It’s a punishment for trying to dance around the salary cap. Ehrhoff’s contract had a $4m cap hit, but he was PAID $18m in actual dollars in the first two years. That’s a cap benefit of $10m that the Sabres balanced out with several dirt-cheap years at the end of the deal. If Ehrhoff had retired before the deal ended, the Sabres would have taken a cap penalty equal to that $10m benefit they enjoyed in the LAST two years, spread over the REMAINING years of his contract at the time he hung up his skates.

        So it has absolutely nothing to do with where they are cap-wise right now. The floor this season is irrelevant. They did this to avoid getting burnt by Ehrhoff retiring in 2018 or 2019. And it was the right decision, because the contract was untradeable and had to be dealt with somehow.

      • valoisvipers - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        @19to77 Can we agree that Ernhoff has value and will be picked up by another team?
        Can we agree Buffalo has to spend money to meet league minimum salary requirements?
        Can we agree Buffalo needs experienced NHL defense men?
        Ernhoff contract has 7 more years of which lets say he can play decently for the first 4 years, then he tanks and retires. There would be 3 years left at 4 million per season or 12 million dollars which is what they are going to give him for not playing at all. Now the part I guess I don’t get. What would league recapture penalty fees be under the scenario that I presented you?

    • padam138 - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      I’m with you. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but what’s the advantage of buying him out and still having to pay him and getting nothing in return?

    • rycoem - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      John Vogl ‏@BuffNewsVogl 1m
      Christian Ehrhoff’s contract combined with the cap recapture rules that would hurt Sabres if he retired early made him untradeable

      • rycoem - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        http://capgeek.com/recapture-grid

        It’s primarily about future cap $$ but then also that he doesn’t want to be in Bflo for the rebuild.

      • cantescapekarma - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Exactly. What if we traded him and he retired early. Then we got hit with a big cap penalty and had to let some of our young kids walk because of it. That would suck.

  6. gbart22 - Jun 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    This is why he didn’t want the nhl to implement the draft changes because be knew be was going all out to tank.

    • rycoem - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      I have to disagree with you…Bflo has 3 1’s and two 2’s already in next year’s draft. The lottery bumps them down no more than one spot from where they finish next year. Would it be great to get McDavid or Eichel, absolutely. That said, if you don’t have a 4-line team around that guy, it won’t win you the cup. Murray is building an overall team – he is not solely focused on one player to be the be-all and end-all (again, if we can get McDavid or Eichel of course it would be great). He isn’t “tanking”, he is completely scrapping & rebuilding – there is a difference.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      You have a overwhelming number of down-thumbs for a reason. Think about it.

  7. redwingsfan101 - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Ken Holland has been trying to trade for Ehrhoff for years. The guy is pretty much exactly what the wings need except for how he shoots. Ken is going to be doing everything in his power to sign him.

  8. cantescapekarma - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    I was pretty disappointed when Ehrhoff was not traded during the draft. From what I understand, Tim Murray tried his a** off to find someone to take Ehrhoff and nobody wanted that contract. Plus I guess Buffalo was worried about that cap recapture penalty down the road (when they plan on being a very competitive team and having lots of high draft picks to get re-signed).
    This had to be done in my opinion. Christian Ehrhoff had ZERO interest in being a Buffalo Sabre during this rebuild and no real interest in trying to help the kids along. He was completely un engaged and un-interested last season. Those types of players are Poison to the young kids. I actually love this move! I feel that it is crucial to surround those young kids with the right types of mentors and Ehrhoff was not it.
    Sure, I would have liked to see him traded and Buffalo get some assets in return. But (and this is a big but), how much would it suck if come 2018 or 2019 if Ehrhoff retired and Buffalo got hit with a big cap penalty and we had to let some of our young stars walk because of it…?
    Also, thank you Terry Pegula! (I know you’re not reading this, but I’ll say it anyway). After years under Golisano, when the bottom line was most important, it’s so great to have an owner willing to spend unlimited amounts of money in order to get that Cup in Buffalo!

    • cantescapekarma - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:34 PM

      By the way… Christian Ehrhoff must be THRILLED right now. He wanted out of Buffalo badly.

      • janoon2013 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        And I, for one, wanted him out of Buffalo too! Too many giveaways, too few goals, and no help on the power play! Bye bye!

  9. canada2014gold - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    Lol this GM better watch out, he needs to get to the cap floor. This is exactly why they changed the draft. Guys tanking on purpose, what an idiot. Buffalo is the new Edmonton. They are going to be giving away 6 mil contracts and top line minutes for potential

    • cantescapekarma - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      I could actually argue that this makes the Buffalo Sabres a Better team next year. Ehrhoff had no interest in playing here last season. He looked lost and unengaged on the ice last year. He was absolutely horrible on the power play. Buffalo is very deep at D. Even if we don’t go out and get a veteran D-man, we already have guys who can step right in.

    • rmccleary97 - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Buffalo will have no problem getting to the cap floor (it’s only $51 million this year). That said, Buffalo isn’t “tanking on purpose” – anyone paying attention to the Sabres for the last couple of years knew rock bottom was coming soon. Regier had so handcuffed the team with bad contracts, the only way out was to buy out guys or ship them off to other teams and eat salary in the process. Lots of guys who really didn’t fit, inconsistent player development, … fixing the problems that exist and having to take a short-term hit to do so isn’t tanking.

      • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        Don’t blame Regier. He’s the reason Tim Murray has so much ammunition to take on the job of building this team from scratch.

        Thank you Darcy!

      • janoon2013 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        Regier is the boob who signed Leino and Ehrhoff in the first place! Terrible contracts for mediocre players!

  10. gbart22 - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    I believe the draft changes would make it so you could fall as many as 4 places next year and how can you disagree with me when it was Murray who just yesterday or the day before came out complaining about the supposed draft changes that might be implemented as soon as next year. He is tanking any shape way or form you want to look at it. When you dumb your veterans and you tell your fans look we suck and we aren’t going out to win as many games as possible this year you’re tanking. It’s no different than what the 76ers are doing in the NBA. He’s icing a team he knows will lose. Tanking.

    • rycoem - Jun 29, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      2015 draft, can only drop one spot, 2016 and after, up to 4 spots

      Murray complained because by making the changes right away, you know the teams you are screwing (Buffalo, Florida)…3 years out, it is still an unknown. No one is denying we stand to lose more than any other team – why wouldn’t he complain?

      So if rebuilding with youth is tanking in your mind, what is the alternative? Build a team of high-priced FAs (like Erhhoff and Leino)? He inherited this mess, he didn’t create it but he is going to fix it methodically and correctly. Please enlighten me with your better alternative that is good long-term for the organization but isn’t defined as tanking by you?

  11. gbart22 - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Also Murray was the only gm to come out and complain about the supposed draft changes taking effect next season. There is a reason for that.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      Yeah, the reason is that he had a lot of draft picks tied up in the trades that Darcy made that could now change their value.

      Do you know of any other team that controls so many picks in the coming years?

      Hint: There are none!

  12. killerpgh - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    With the buyout of Ehrhoff and Leino the Sabres now only have under 30.5 million in players salary counting towards to cap for 16 players. Unless they start making some trades that add salary someone in Free Agency is gonna need to get overpaid just to help this team make the salary cap floor of 51 million.

    • elemeno89 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      Rumors are that Murray has reached out to both Moulsen and Ott. Lecalvier is getting shopped, Stastny is available. Who knows what will happen. I’m ok with overpaying a few guys for s certain number of years. It has to happen if we want any FA of any sort at this point.

  13. joeman26 - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    his contract was untradeable

  14. cantescapekarma - Jun 29, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    For all of you people saying that Tim Murray is doing this to tank, here’s just a little bit of what Murray had to say about this buyout –

    “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.”

    “”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.”

  15. canada2014gold - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    Anyone who knows hockey knows he’s tanking on purpose

    • 19to77 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      “Everyone who disagrees with me just doesn’t know hockey as well as I do.”

      Didn’t know you’d been taught to use the Internet, Mr. Cherry. You’ll fit right in here.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      And you prove by that statement that YOU are the one who doesn’t know hockey.

      Thanks for the update…keep us posted if you ever get a clue.

  16. phillyphanatic77 - Jun 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Oh man that’s a quality defender no one expected to be available. He’s gonna have a ton of suitors, even if his stats haven’t been impressive (thanks in part to the guys around him). A smooth skating 6’2 Dman who can QB your PP… someones gonna get a solid addition. And he’s not that old at 31. If I were him, and with the extra buyout money, I’d take less money (a la Lecavalier) to sign with a good team. I’d imagine someone like Florida or the Isles would offer more but I’d go to a legitimate Cup threat or a team like Detroit on the upswing.

  17. anthj99 - Jun 29, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Great opportunity for Mike Weber to step up and be the top D-man and Norris contender.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      Are you serious? Great opportunity, sure…but Weber isn’t capable of going there.

      • anthj99 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        I think Mike Weber is the worst player in the NHL. I was trying to be extremely sarcastic. I’ll try harder next time.

  18. 19to77 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    And just like that the market for defensemen got markedly more interesting. Niskanen didn’t really have any direct competition for a contract because Boyle is so much older and only a short-term solution. Ehrhoff’s got years left in him. He’s not a right-handed shooter but he’s a big boost on the man advantage. Vancouver went from the best power play in the NHL to 22nd within two years and the only changes they made that affected the PP unit were letting Ehrhoff go and signing David Booth.

    As for potential destinations, he’d fit right into the Avalanche roster and Lord knows they need to add defensive depth that can skate. Ehrhoff-Barrie on the power play would be a very nice look.

    • Expat in Saudi - Jun 30, 2014 at 3:24 AM

      A bigger issue for the ‘Nucks was letting Sami Salo go. He was the point man/quarterback who really made things happen. Ehrhoff was good, Salo was more important.

  19. djshnooks - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    This isn’t about tanking you moron. This is about using their last compliance buyout to get out of a contract that could come back to hurt them if he is traded and retires.

    The Sabres don’t have to tank, they already suck and have 3 1st’s anyways.

  20. billsin20xx - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    - Some people are ridiculous-

    —He couldn’t be traded, his future cap hit if he retires to the Sabres could cripple them in a few years.
    —He wasn’t very good here, tons of mistakes. Totally not impressed with him the last few years, def not an elite d man.
    —If anybody listens and watches Murray and Ted Nolan, you would know neither one of those guys would purposely tank. They are both no nonsense guys going all out.
    —Murray complained about the draft changes because they do hurt the Sabre’s and they draft picks he worked for last year. This change def should have been planned for in 2 or 3 years when teams don’t know who will be on the bottom. 80% of the teams would vote for this change, they knew they wouldn’t be bottom 5.
    —He didn’t want to be part of a rebuild, let him go!
    —This move will improve the Sabre’s, it will give more time to the d-men they will need in the next few years.

    another classic Regier mistake, Snow must be sad he’s gone because Regier was the worst, now Snow has the title!

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      Regier was a good GM. Obviously you’re impervious to facts. Like I said, go back to that loser football team and leave hockey alone.

      • anthj99 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        Regier was a good GM? Hilarious.

      • billsin20xx - Jun 29, 2014 at 7:10 PM

        wow, you are def living in a fairly land. If regier was any good he’d have been considered for another gm job, now, wow, he’s supposedly being considered for an assistant gm job.
        the guy wrecked this team, they only thing he could add was a few draft picks.
        check out the up and downs on your posts and figure out if anybody here thinks you have a clue!!!!

  21. djshnooks - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Ps. Don’t blame Golisano, he had nothing to do with this, this was all fanboy Pegula.

    Also, Golisano’s teams made it further than Pegula’s have even dreamed of.

    • rycoem - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      Agreed, but I still like Pegula – his heart’s in the right place for the team and the city. He’s learning – at the expense of about five seasons and millions of $$ – but he’s learning.

      • bullwinkle88 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Agreed. Pegula is a vast improvement over Golisano.

    • billsin20xx - Jun 29, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      Pegula made one huge mistake that he’s literally paying a ton for, and that was keeping Regier, then listening to him with the signings he made.

      and we will never know if it was golisano or regier who royally screwed up by letting drury and briere go – which has hampered this team ever since.

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