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Emery, Senators avoid salary arbitration, agree to $9.5 million, 3-year deal @NHL

TORONTO (AP) -Ray Emery and the Ottawa Senators avoided salary arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a three-year deal worth $9.5 million that makes him one of the NHL's highest paid goalies.

The 24-year-old was a restricted free agent. He will earn $2.75 million next season, $3.25 million in 2008-09 and $3.5 million in 2009-10 - for an annual average of $3.16 million, a big raise over the $925,000 he made last season. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract.

"I like the fact we have three years with him," said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "He's young, we believe he's getting better and we'll certainly know that at the end of this contract."

Emery's average eclipses the $2.66 million average salaries earned by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller and Carolina's Cam Ward, and is less than the $4.25 million, one-year deal signed by New York Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist.

Emery's deal was struck just before the two sides began their hearing at a downtown hotel, when Murray got clearance from team owner Eugene Melnyk.

Emery emerged as Ottawa's starting goalie last season and led the team to a Stanley Cup final appearance. He went 33-16-6 in the regular season with a 2.47 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. He was 13-7 with a 2.26 GAA and .907 save percentage in the playoffs.

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