Anaheim Mighty Ducks captain Paul Kariya is heading to the open market.
The Ducks opted not to tender a qualifying offer on their star forward, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent as of Tuesday.
- Paul Kariya bio
Anaheim would have had to tender a $10 million US offer by midnight. Now, Kariya will be available to the highest bidder.
"This was very difficult for me," Ducks general manager Bryan Murray said on a Monday night conference call. "Paul is a great guy and a great player. We've had a very good relationship.
"Financially some things have to make sense in our business," added Murray. "I know our company, I know our budget, I know the amount of money it costs to operate this hockey team. We have to get our players' contracts in order."
Kariya has played his entire nine-year career with the Mighty Ducks. He scored 25 goals and 81 points in 82 games last season.
The fourth overall selection in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Kariya has been injury-prone throughout his career. His best season came in 1995-96 when he scored 50 goals and registered 108 points.
Kariya holds franchise records for games played (606), goals (300) and assists (369).
Murray said the Ducks still hoped to re-sign Kariya, most likely at a cheaper price. The move is unlikely, however, unless Kariya can't find any other suitors.
"He did not give us the right of first refusal," said Murray. "He was very disappointed. We had talked about this possibility numerous times."
The Ducks, who reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2003, also decided not to pick up the option on veteran forward Adam Oates.
with files from Sports Network and Canadian Press