Niedermayer Gets Freedom Not Cash

I’m not sure I get Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer’s arbitration settlement.
He wanted $9 million a year for five years and the Devils were reportedly stuck on $8 million a year for five years.
So he ended up with $7 million?
I don’t know if the arbitrators are privy to the numbers teams are knocking around with players, but it seems really weird that they would come in below what a team is willing to pay. I guess in Niedermayer’s case the compromise is he’s getting less money than he wanted but the right to go on the free agent market next season, whenever that is. And it sounds like he’s pretty serious about leaving the team as soon as he contractually can.
So as near as I can tell, the only Devil to ever leave arbitration happily is Scott Gomez, who just got $2.9 million for next season.