By John Vogl
The Sabres have asked Christian Ehrhoff to supply a list of eight teams to which he will not accept a trade. He's not surprised they did.
Ehrhoff, who is in the third year of a 10-year contract with Buffalo, has a modified no-trade clause but can be moved to the 21 teams he did not list.
"They obviously want to be prepared come trade deadline," the defenseman said today. "We’ll see where it will take us."
Ehrhoff joined the Sabres in June 2011 when the team was riding the wave created by new owner Terry Pegula. The wave is gone and the barren land of 30th place remains after two seasons with no playoffs.
"It hasn’t been what everybody expected," Ehrhoff said in First Niagara Center, where the Sabres are set to host San Jose. "We’re in 30th place, and they’ve got to be prepared. It’s part of the business. I’ll keep on focusing on hockey and focus on the game tonight."
The 31-year-old wouldn't be against a trade, but he's not seeking one.
"Obviously, the goal is to win the Stanley Cup," Ehrhoff said. "Playing in the playoffs is nice, but like I’ve said I made a commitment with the Sabres. As long as I’m here, I’ve giving 100 percent for the team."
The drawback to dealing Ehrhoff is the NHL's collective bargaining agreement. The league sought a way to penalize teams for the creative bookkeeping that drove up salaries, so the new CBA has a cap-recapture formula. All contracts longer than six years signed before the 2013 lockout-shortened season are subject to a cap-recapture penalty.
In Ehrhoff's case, the Sabres gave him a front-loaded deal that eased the salary-cap burden in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Though he made $10 million in salary the first year and $8 million the second season, he counted just $4 million against the Sabres' salary cap because of his contract average. That gave the Sabres an "advantage" of $6 million and $4 million, respectively, during the two seasons.
Should Ehrhoff retire before his deal expires in 2020-21 (when he'd be 38), that "advantage" will be "recaptured" and added to the Sabres' salary cap. The calculator from CapGeek.com is available here.
If the Sabres kept Ehrhoff around and he wanted to retire early, they could buy him out to avoid the penalties. If they trade him, they'd have little to no control over his retirement, which could hurt their future cap space.