Your New York Rangers announced today - 48 hours after the Arbitration Ruling - which came 48 hours after the Arbitration Hearing - that they are no longer interested in Nik at the Arbitrator's price of $3.9 million (for one year).
This, finally, moves the enigmatic Russian winger off the Ranger Roster and from RFA to UFA status. Now, like a UFO, this UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent) can mysteriously appear anywhere he likes and can sign with any team for any price.
Why didn't the Ranger cut him loose weeks (or months) ago? They we hoping that they could trade him. It's true that Nik has some value - he can be - when motivated - brilliant. He's a easy 20+ goal scorer with a chance to be quite a bit more.
But - what would another team pay the Rangers for Nick's services when the Blueshirts were due to lose all rights to him in 2 days? Why not wait and take your chances negotiating directly with Nik? Apparently no other team was willing to trade anything the Ranger wanted to sign Nik at $3.9, so everyone waited the Rangers out and - with no remaining options - the Rangers have set the young man free.
So - goodbye Nik. You were a leading scorer here and, if things had broken differently, you could have been a star here. We'll never know exactly how much of Nik's disappearing act was all his own doing - and how much was foisted on him by the treatment and linemates supplied by Slats and Torts. That being said - how he performs elsewhere over the rest of his career will tell us a lot about how the New York Rangers handled this young talented player.