Sabres buy out Christian Ehrhoff

— -- The Buffalo Sabres have used their final compliance buyout on Christian Ehrhoff, general manager Tim Murray confirmed to The defenseman has also declined the waiver process so he'll immediately become a free agent.

The veteran defenseman signed a 10-year, $40 million contract in June of 2011 with the Sabres, a deal that included $14 million in bonuses in the first two seasons, and is still owed two-thirds of his remaining $18 million to be paid over 14 years. Part of the motivation in buying out the contract with the danger that came with the potential of being hit with a cap recapture penalty. The final three years of this deal were at $1 million per season and if Ehrhoff retired early, the Sabres would have been hit with a significant cap hit penalty depending on when he retired.

Ehrhoff was one of two veteran defensemen to go through the buyout process on Sunday, with Florida also using a compliance buyout on defenseman Ed Jovanovski. He'll be bought out once he clears waivers on Monday, according to's Pierre LeBrun.

Ehrhoff will be a popular target in a free agent market that's thin on defensemen. He's still just 31 years old and coming off a season in which he scored 33 points in 79 games on a rebuilding Sabres team.

He's a legitimate top-four defenseman, joining a short list of them in free agency that includes Dan Boyle, Matt Niskanen and  Anton Stralman.

TSN had earlier reported news of Ehrhoff's buyout.'s Pierre LeBrun contributed to this report.