Deadlines motivate action, especially ones associated with money. The New York Rangers and Brandon Dubinsky had one looming Thursday that could have led to another short-term deal for the team’s leading goal, assists, and point man from this past season.
Reportedly separated by a wide financial gulf just hours before an arbitration hearing, general manager Glen Sather turned to his favourite hobby: he dug into his pocket, and came up with a wad of greenery.
The cash in Sather’s hand satisfied Dubinsky, and he’ll now be wearing a blueshirt for the next four years, making $16.8 million at a cap hit of $4.2 million.
But was this a good deal for Sather and the Rangers after the Brinks truck just unloaded on Brad Richards’ doorstep?
The answer to that is a tentative yes, with the only hesitancy depending on the cost of Ryan Callahan. This is the part when we recite the stats of two players, their cap hits or potential cap hits, and how they fit into the overall jagged budget jigsaw Sather has assembled. And…go!
Dubinsky was clearly ready to demand a pay raise after the 25-year-old recorded career highs in goals (24), assists (30), and points (54). He was paid $2 million last season in the final year of a two-year deal negotiated at gun point in September of 2009 after an eight-day training camp holdout, a contract that had a $1.85 million cap hit.
However, Callahan had a similarly impressive season with his 23 goals and 48 points, an offensive output that was limited by a fractured leg forcing the winger to miss the last 22 games of the season and the playoffs. As you would expect, Callahan’s similarities to Dubinsky extend to his bank account. He contributed $2.3 million to New York’s cap last year, and figures to demand a raise that equals or slightly exceeds the contract of his newly signed forward friend.
With Dubinsky and Brian Boyle locked up, the Rangers have secured two of their primary RFAs. But allowing Callahan to potentially leave next summer after signing a one-year contract dictated by an arbitrator–his hearing is scheduled for next Thursday–would make a significant dent in an offence that just added an expensive player.
The problem with signing Callahan to the long-term deal in the range of $4-5 million that he rightfully desires is that the Rangers can afford his salary, but barely. Sather has $5.8 million in cap space, leaving minimal wiggle room throughout the season to possible acquire depth at the trade deadline during a playoff push.
With that minimal room already expected after Callahan is signed, Sather didn’t flinch when faced with Dubinsky’s arbitration stare down, keeping his contract at a manageable number. Yesterday Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that Dubinsky was seeking a contract in the neighbourhood of $5-5.25 million per year.
That number came down significantly, making the negotiations with Dubinsky a success, and allowing Sather the room to shoehorn in Callahan. Hesitancy still lingers though regarding the team’s overall cap, and the number that will be awarded to New York’s other key forward still hovering in RFA purgatory.