The Buffalo Sabres are buying out the last seven years of the marathon contract Christian Ehrhoff signed three years ago.

The Sabres confirmed the transaction first reported by The Buffalo News, which will make the veteran an unrestricted free agent.

The German defenceman was signed in 2011 by the Sabres to a 10-year, $40 million US contract. While the salary cap hit was $4 million per season, Ehrhoff actually earned $22 million in his three years in Buffalo.

The Sabres will now pay him two-thirds of the remainder of his contract over twice the time frame left, which is approximately $12 million over the next 14 years. The amount won't count against their salary cap going forward.

Ehrhoff, who turns 32 on July 6, was drafted by San Jose in the fourth round in 2001 and spent five seasons with the Sharks and two with the Vancouver Canucks.

For his career, he has scored 69 goals and 244 assists, with 457 penalty minutes, in 692 regular season games.

There had been reports in February that Ehrhoff, who had a limited no-trade clause, had submitted a list of teams to Sabres general manager Tim Murray for a potential deal.

The Sabres used their first compliance buyout earlier this month on underperforming Finnish forward Ville Leino.