zherdev-getty-2008

Nikolai Zherdev joined the New York Rangers just over one year ago. ((Bruce Bennett/Getty Images))

The New York Rangers have opted not to adhere to a salary arbitration ruling for Nikolai Zherdev, leaving the forward an unrestricted free agent.

Zherdev would have been due $3.9 million US, per last week's ruling.

"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 general manager Glen Sather said in a statement. "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 appeared to be on target to reach career highs after a strong first half last season, but fizzled down the stretch. He had just four goals and four assists in the last 16 regular-season games, and was held without a point in seven playoff contests.

He finished with 23 goals and 35 assists and a plus-6 rating, appearing in all 82 games for the second straight season.

The 24-year-old was traded to the Rangers from Columbus just 13 months ago in a four-player deal. New York has already dispatched the other player they received in that transaction, Dan Fritsche, sending him to Minnesota six months ago.

Zherdev has scored 99 goals and 140 assists in 365 NHL games over five seasons. The Blue Jackets selected him fourth overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft but the enigmatic Russian has only intermittently shown flashes of his considerable skill.

Zherdev was left off an invitation list announced on Monday for Russia's Olympic hockey camp later this month in Moscow.

The forward earned $3.25 million last season and will now look for employment elsewhere in the NHL or in the KHL in Russia.

It is rare but not unprecedented for teams to not proceed after an aribitrator's ruling. Buffalo walked away from the rate established for J.P. Dumont in 2006, while several years ago Boston balked at rulings for Dimitri Khristich and Bryan Berard.