The strange, injurious journey of Jason Arnott, free agent

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As the lockout ended, Jason Arnott was skating informally in Highland Park, Texas, with Dallas Stars players. He was an unrestricted free agent after spending 2011-12 with the St. Louis Blues, unable to latch onto the center-heavy Stars.

The sniffs kept coming from around the NHL, as teams looked to add a veteran Stanley Cup-winning forward for less than last year’s $2.5 million hit. The Vancouver Canucks were mentioned prominently due to the decimation of their second line.

But the team that Arnott agreed to play for was the New York Rangers, signing him to a pro-rated $1.6 million deal and reuniting him with GM Glen Sather from his Edmonton Oilers days.

Ah, were it only that easy. On Sunday, the Rangers walked away from their contract agreement with Arnott after he failed a physical. From Andrew Gross at Rangers Rants:

Arnott had 17 goals and 17 assists in 72 games for the Blues last season but played through both shoulder and knee issues. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the off-season. Over 18 seasons, including two stops with the Devils, Arnott has 417 goals and 521 assists in 1,244 games.

As Blues blogger Andy Strickland noted, the whole thing seemed odd: Arnott’s knee was “100 percent” last August and lingering shoulder problems for a 38-year-old NHL veteran aren’t exactly a Leprechaun riding a unicorn in terms of rare sights. Whatever it was, the Rangers were aware of it before signing him.

Buyer’s remorse? The Rangers played Benn Ferriero with Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin on Saturday and things went well. He also makes $700,000 this season, pro rated.

Meanwhile, Arnott remains on the market. Maybe another team’s doctor will give him a second opinion.

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