Since coming on board, Tim Murray has done little to upset Sabres fans. He got what many thought was a fair return in his moves at the deadline, and yesterday picked a player that many were on board with. For the first time in his tenure as Sabres GM Murray has made a controversial move.
In buying out Christian Ehrhoff the Sabres lose their best defenseman from last season, the stalwart of a group that looked incredibly shaky even with him. The only defenders left on the roster are Tyler Myers, Henrik Tallinder (who is a UFA), Jamie McBain (who is an RFA and may not be tendered), and the young group that may start the season in Rochester. Nolan and Murray made it clear that they didn't want to keep up players like Rasmus Ristolainen and Mark Pysyk last year where they would only experience losing. That won't change much this year, making the odds that Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov will be filling in Ehrhoff's spot for the whole season.
The fact that the move is not clean cut doesn't necessarily mean that it is a bad move. There are reasons where it makes sense, including the cap recapture penalty, and the fact that Ehrhoff may have simply not been all that interested in playing in Buffalo anymore. But its hard to make an argument that the Sabres are better without Ehrhoff than they were with him.
Despite frequently saying that he doesn't care about the cap floor, eventually Murray has to. This move could mean that he knows that he will be signing some free agents this week or is confident in his ability to pick up contracts in trades, but it still does push the Sabres even further from the cap floor. They will now need to spend a little over $20 million to get to the floor, which will make this off-season very interesting.
Long term it could be the right call for Mr. Murray, but he certainly will have to deal with a fair share or naysayers in regards to buying out Ehrhoff. If the move does anything, it reminds you that after months of universal praise that the longer Murray is the GM, the more opportunity people will have for criticism. And based on the past few months, he doesn't really care what people think.