The NHL's most significant salary arbitration rejections since the lockout

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for finiemi.jpgIt must be a very uncomfortable feeling for a player when a team walks away from an arbitration decision. My guess is that it would be a lot like the feeling someone would get if their date scrambled from a restaurant after seeing the bill for dinner.

This last summer, we saw the Chicago Blackhawks walk away from a one-year, $2.75 million award for Antti Niemi (for cap-related reasons) and the Atlanta Thrashers deny Clarke MacArthur a $2.4 million award (because they didn’t think he was worth the cash, and rightfully so, I’d say). These moments happen from time to time, so NHL.com listed the biggest salary arbitration rejections since the lockout ended. Here are the players who made the list aside from Niemi and MacArthur.

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 ended up with the Nashville Predators, where he’s had a fairly impressive career ever since then. The Sabres can be a cheap team in some ways, but it seems as if Regier makes the right choice more often than not. (So I guess Buffalo is the polar opposite of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for nikolaizherdev.jpgNikolai 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.

Considering the fact that he came back to the NHL – but for nearly half the price at $2 million – Sather’s assessment was probably correct. It’s weird to write “Sather” and “correct” without also adding “wildly in” between those two words … (at least while discussing anything that happened after 1990).

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.

So according to NHL.com, the biggest salary arbitration rejections involved Niemi, MacArthur, Zherdev, Tanabe and Dumont. With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that the Niemi decision was the biggest arbitration rejection of the post-lockout years. It will be interesting to see if the Blackhawks made the correct decisions this summer, but at least they know they won’t be alone in taking their chances … by not taking their chances with arbitration awards.

Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options,’ says his agent

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings checks his stick before a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.

His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.

From the Detroit Free Press:

“He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.

At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.

He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.

Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final

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The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.

After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.

The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.

Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.

But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.

As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.

After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.

Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.

Video: Sharks’ Polak snaps, Blues make him pay on the power play

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San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.

In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.

The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.

The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.