Monday, June 30, 2014

Looks like Christian Ehrhoff will be a surprise compliance buyout

Reprinted with permission from

That Ville Leino was No. 1 on most list of NHL compliance buyouts was a given. He had given bailed and rather than him being a complete waste taking up a roster spot, Sabres GM Tim Murray waived him with the intention of buying him out.

Leino was part of a big 2011 off season that saw new owner Terry Pegula cutting loose the financial chains of then GM Darcy Regier. The unrestricted free agent was signed to a 6 yr./$27M contract.

That summer kicked off with the late June trade for defenseman Robyn Regehr. The Calgary defenseman had a no-trade clause and was convinced by Pegula and Co. to waive it to come to Buffalo.

The Sabres also took back Ales Kotalik and his $3M contract in the deal.

In between Regehr and Leino was another big signing which was actually a "re-signing."

The NY Islanders traded the rights to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the Sabres for a 4th round pick. They had acquired Ehrhoff's rights from Vancouver previously for a 4th round pick and after the Ehrhoff camp rejected a 6 yr./$33M contract.

The Sabres promptly signed Ehrhoff to a heavily front-loaded 10 yr./$40M contract.

Now, word comes from TSN's Bob McKenzie that Murray has begun the process of buying out Ehrhoff.

The veteran defenseman was a disgruntled player last season in what could amount to being sold a false bill of goods

When he signed with Buffalo, it was on the premise that the team was on the upswing and that they'd be making a deep run in the playoffs.

In February of this year, and with the team in dead last, Ehrhoff was asked for his list of eight teams he would not accept a trade to.

Thus began the beginning of the end.

It's assumed that Murray had been shopping Ehrhoff all the way up until today with no takers.

The contract is awesome for a #3/4 d-man like Ehrhoff. If a team is worried about the cap, it's $4M per year. If a team is on a budget, with $17M already paid out, there's only $23M left in actual salary over the remaining seven years.

Unfortunately there was a little thing called the lockout and with it came stiff penalties for front-loaded contracts that are deemed cap-circumventing. In Ehrhoff's case, should he retire before the end of his contract the Sabres, as well as potential trade partner would be on the hook for a $10M recapture penalty.

That penalty probably made Ehrhoff untradeable and, as with the case of Leino, rather than have a disgruntled player disrupting a rebuild, off he goes.

All three of Regier's "big city" acquisitions are being swept away by Murray.

In addition to those three, unrestricted free agent defenseman Alexander Sulzer is already gone while defenseman Hank Tallinder doesn't look to be a part of the near future either.

The status of restricted free agent Jamie McBain who came from Carolina at the 2013 draft in the Andrej Sekera trade, is up in the air.

And it's doubtful that enforcer John Scott will be back.

Of all the moves it's the Ehrhoff move that is the most definitive for Murray.

Murray could've kept him another year hoping that a team would bite. It's not like it would matter that much as the team will be near the bottom again.

But it's a good move for all parties involved and that includes the team that signs him.

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