emery-ray-392-cp-070606

Ray Emery cleared waivers Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent. ((Chris Carlson/Associated Press))

Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery cleared waivers Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Had Emery been picked up by one of the other 29 NHL teams, he would have received the full $6.75 million US remaining in the final two years of his contract.

When he went unclaimed, the Senators were permitted to buy him out for one-third or $2.25 million US.  

"It is an opportunity for us to move on and him to move on," Senators general manager Bryan Murray told reporters last Friday at the NHL draft.  

"You never like to do that. It is really a shame [because] Ray Emery is a good goaltender."

Emery, 25, split the netminding chores with Martin Gerber last season, posting a 12-13-4 record with a 3.13 goals-against average and .890 save percentage in 31 games last season.

That represented a steep decline from the previous season, when Emery was instrumental in the Senators reaching the Stanley Cup final.  

Moreover, he was slow to recover from surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left wrist, and was tardy twice at practice.

"I don't think I was a model citizen," Emery said as the Senators cleaned out their lockers on April 17. 

"But in no way did I not encourage my teammates or take away from what they were trying to do."

"I don't know if he was a total distraction or not, but the fact is he didn't play down the stretch and he didn't play in the playoffs, and that was a result of him not having played as well as he did a year ago," Murray said at season's end. "He did not, in my opinion, commit to the team in the way that we think our players have to commit."

Emery inked a three-year, $9.5-million US contract with the Senators on July 24.

The native of Hamilton, Ont., is 71-40-14 lifetime with a 2.71 GAA and eight shutouts in 134 NHL games since being drafted in the fourth round (99th overall) by Ottawa in 2001.

With files from the Canadian Press