Sabres buy out Christian Ehrhoff

The Buffalo Sabres have used their final compliance buyout on Christian Ehrhoff, general manager Tim Murray confirmed to ESPN.com. 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 ESPN.com'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.

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun contributed to this report.