UPDATE: TBN's John Vogl was sitting next to Tim Murray on the flight home, and got some additional information.
Tim Murray says he has contemplated buying Ehrhoff out from the moment the Sabres hired the GM. Ehrhoff's contract is a major factor.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) June 29, 2014
But frankly, Tim Murray says, Christian Ehrhoff's desire to not be part of the Sabres and defenseman's inability to improve team are huge.— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) June 29, 2014
Christian Ehrhoff's contract combined with the cap recapture rules that would hurt Sabres if he retired early made him untradeable— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) June 29, 2014
Ehrhoff also thanked Sabres fans on his Twitter this afternoon.
Thanks to the great community of WNY, sabres fans and sabres organization for welcoming me and my family with open arms these past 3 years!— Christian Ehrhoff (@TheRealHoff10) June 29, 2014
Well this is screwy.
Just a few minutes ago, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Buffalo Sabres will be using their second compliance buyout on defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
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, who was acquired by the Sabres exactly three years ago today (thanks Bill) has been the Sabres top defenseman in both minutes and production since he signed his 10-year contract back in 2011. The way we see it, this somewhat-puzzling move is happening for a few reasons:
1. Cap recapture penalty - You can read all about the cap recapture rules at CapGeek, but the long and short of it is that if a player with Ehrhoff's "cap-friendly" contract (one where his actual salary is higher than his cap hit) retires before the end of the contract, the Sabres would get hit with big penalties though it's different depending on whether he's traded or not. For example, if Ehrhoff is traded and retired with one year left on his deal (he'd be 37) then the Sabres would get hit with a $10 million cap penalty the next year. If he retires with 2 years left, $5 million for two years, and so on. If he's not traded and retires a year early, the penalty would only be $3 million. Either way, this would be bad considering the Sabres would theoretically be competing for a Stanley Cup in these years.
2. They don't want a 36-year old power play quarterback - If the rebuild goes as planned, the window for the Sabres to be good and the window for Ehrhoff to be good won't match up. He'll likely be relegated to third-pairing minutes at this point, and $4 million is a lot of pay for what Chad Ruhwedel did last year.
This move is especially puzzling because it moves the Sabres even further from next year's salary cap floor. Without Ehrhoff's $4 million hit on the books, the Sabres now only have 14 players under contract and a total salary of $30,419,166. The cap floor next year is expected to be $51 million, leaving Buffalo over $20 million shy of the minimum. At least we'll have an exciting free agent period, I guess.
We'll hopefully hear from Tim Murray on this later today, but until we know why this move was made, let us know what you think in the comments.