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Biggest salary rejections in the past five years

Monday, 08.02.2010 / 2:26 PM / 2010 Offseason News

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Biggest salary rejections in the past five years
NHL.com looks at the biggest salary rejections since play resumed after the work stoppage in 2005.
It was just over a decade ago when Harry Sinden and the Boston Bruins said, "Thanks, but no thanks," after forward Dmitri Khristich took the club to arbitration and was awarded a $2.8 million salary.

There haven't been many club rejections since that rare case in August 1999, but the Chicago Blackhawks' decision to part ways with goaltender Antti Niemi on Monday morning is certainly the most memorable.

NHL.com takes a look at the biggest salary rejections since the League returned from a work stoppage in the fall of 2005:

Antti Niemi, 2010 -- Less than two months after helping the Chicago Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup in 49 years, Niemi became an unrestricted free agent when the Hawks walked away from his $2.75 million award. Niemi went 26-7-4 with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage during the regular season before going 16-6 with a 2.63 GAA and .912 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But salary cap woes left Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman little choice but to walk away from Niemi. Chicago immediately signed Marty Turco to a one-year deal worth between $1 million and $1.5 million. Niemi became an unrestricted free agent.

J.P. Dumont, 2006 -- Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier made the difficult decision to walk away from Dumont despite the winger's solid production in 2005-06. Dumont, then 28 years old, had 20 goals and 20 assists for the Sabres, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals that year. Dumont went 7-7-14 in 18 playoff games, but his $2.9 million award was simply too much for Buffalo, which was also up against the cap.

Dumont went on to sign with Nashville, where he's played ever since. He scored a career-high 29 goals for the Predators in 2007-08.

Nikolai Zherdev, 2009 -- One would have thought the Russian winger would have been safe after appearing in all 82 games and tallying 23 goals and 35 assists for the New York Rangers in 2008-09, but GM Glen Sather declined to accept Zherdev's $3.9 million award.

Only one Ranger (Marian Gaborik) scored more than 23 goals last season, while Zherdev spent the season in the KHL. He signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers last month. 

Clarke MacArthur, 2010
-- The 5-foot-11 forward split last season between Buffalo and Atlanta, and new Thrashers GM Rick Dudley recently walked away from MacArthur's $2.4 million ruling. Between the Sabres and Thrashers, the Alberta native had 16 goals and 19 assists.

With the acquisitions of Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Ben Eager, the Thrashers felt it wasn't a necessity to keep MacArthur around. He's currently an unrestricted free agent.

David Tanabe, 2006 -- A first-round selection (No. 16) by the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999, Tanabe was awarded a $1.275 million salary after going 4-12-16 in 54 games for the Boston Bruins in 2005-06. But the Bruins felt the price was too steep for the 6-foot-1, 212-pound defenseman, and Tanabe became an unrestricted free agent.

Less than a month later, Tanabe signed on for a second stint with the Hurricanes. Unfortunately, a concussion suffered against Toronto in December 2007 ended his career at the age of 27.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL


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