The New York Rangers have decided to walk away from a salary arbitration ruling to Nikolai Zherdev, making the forward an unrestricted free agent.
Zherdev was awarded a one-year, $3.9 million contract following his hearing on Friday. He was reportedly looking for $4.75 million, while the Rangers were offering less than $3.2 million.
''With the additions we've been able to make this summer, we feel we've been able to add scoring and offense from the wing position,'' Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather stated. ''Following the arbitration process and subsequent award given, we feel it is in our best interest to walk away and continue to explore all available options to improve our roster.''
Zherdev, 24, appeared in 82 games with the Rangers last season, registering 23 goals and 35 assists for 58 points, along with 39 penalty minutes. He was held scoreless in seven playoff contests.
The 6-2, 203-pounder has skated in 365 regular season contests with the Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets, recording 99 goals and 140 assists for 239 points, along with 203 penalty minutes. The Kiev, Ukraine native was originally Columbus' first round choice, fourth overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.