Would all those who foresaw the Buffalo Sabres using their second and last compliance buyout on no less than their top defenseman Christian Ehrhoff please step forward. Anyone?
Yeah, I didn’t either.
However reports are now breaking everywhere on this otherwise pleasant Sunday morning that the Sabres are preparing to do exactly that.
If this buzz does indeed come to fruition the move would be to say the least, baffling; to say the most, nonsensical.
The only possible explanation, that the Sabres would potentially be on the hook for a huge chunk of cash some years down the road due to the punitive consequences of the cap recapture rules, seems flimsy at best.
The reasons for not doing so, though, are legion. My goodness, where to begin?
Ehrhoff, 31, is the Sabres’ best rearguard. He’s got seven years left at a very reasonable $4 Million per annum on the front-loaded ten year contract he signed in 2011. (Buffalo flipped a draft pick to the New York Islanders to secure his exclusive pre-free agency negotiating rights.)
Also, after having dealt away nearly all of its veterans in its effort to tank and rebuild, Buffalo has few experienced leaders left on the roster. And one would think that now, with several highly-touted and blue chip defensemen a year or so away from cracking the lineup, that solid leadership on the blueline would be paramount.
Further, the Sabres are still millions away from reaching the minimum salary cap floor. And, quite frankly, it’s hard to believe that the limited amount of high-priced UFA’s who’ll become available July 1st will be champing at the bit to sign on for several years with the NHL’s worst team.
What makes this more confusing is that it’s nearly impossible to name a player who should be as easier to deal away than Ehrhoff. On most teams he’s a top-two blue-liner, and he’s already signed for seasons to come at a laughably cheap contract and salary cap dent.
On the surface, unless Ehrhoff came right out and told the Sabres he no longer wants to play in Buffalo, to simply give him away would seem untenable.
As today progresses, surely there will be some kind of clarifying statement coming from the hockey offices at First Niagara Center. Just as surely is that there’ll be many hockey fans eager to hear it.