Monday, June 6, 2011

Dubinsky/Richards Stuff

In case you were on a blue moon, the weekend was full of news off the ice involving Brandon Dubinsky and free agent to be Brad Richards. Before we get into the Dubinsky stuff, let's first address what Mr. Richards is rumored to want this July 1.

Not surprisingly, the 31 year-old former Conn Smythe winner expects to sign a long-term deal for at least five years. Per our favorite Brooksie, the playmaking pivot would like to be paid handsomely with $7 million-per-year floating around. As good as he is, that price is astronomical. Especially for a player whose health could come into question following another concussion that kept him out for a critical stretch when the Stars were pushing for the playoffs. Coincidentally, they played better without their top scorer. Go figure.

Richards is a talented player who certainly makes teammates better with precision passing. With Joe Nieuwendyk already indicating that Dallas is out of the running, B-rad will be on his third team this summer. Both the Kings and Rangers are interested with possibly the Leafs in the mix if Richards decides they're worth pursuing. Of course, he definitely can boost our power play, which again was useless thanks to Marian Gaborik's milk carton showing. In fact, our best performer was Ryan Callahan, who netted a team best 10 power play goals despite missing 22 games. Seven of Gaborik's 22 markers came via the man-advantage, checking in behind Cally. Remarkably, Dubinsky only scored four of his club-leading 24.

I'm on record as being against signing Richards because investing five years in a vet could prove disastrous at such a high cost. The CBA will soon run out next year and nobody knows what to expect. With Dubinsky, Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Mike Sauer and Brian Boyle all potential Group II's along with Ruslan Fedotenko and Matt Gilroy, who likely will be on the market, Glen Sather must turn his attention to getting our core signed before embarking on such chaotic dreams that have backfired (ex.Gomez, Drury, Redden). It's much better to take care of our own for a change instead of nickeling and diming them while catering to guys who have never worn the jersey. How many years has this gone on?

I like Richards but at that price along with the length, forget it. And I'm not high on trading for Jason Spezza, who isn't exactly what he should be and will not come cheap (3 years left at $7 M avg). Larry Brooks also suggested Stephen Weiss, who's solid but unspectacular with NHL Siberia Florida. Weiss is at best a 60-65 point guy who also is a better passer than finisher, which would fit the bill. He'd also come cheaper with just two years left at a more affordable $3.1 million cap hit before turning unrestricted in 2013. I hardly believe he's the solution but Brooks is assuming Weiss will be rejuvenated in a larger market like Nathan Horton is with Boston. Perhaps, but it's hit or miss. What would it cost?

As for Dubinsky, Brooks states that our leading scorer may want $4.5 million. He's been a good player for us but still hasn't scratched the surface for what his potential could be. The 54 points (24-30-54) over 77 games were all career highs but the '04 second round steal (60th overall behind busts Darin Olver, Dane Byers and Bruce Graham) is capable of at least 30 goals and 30 helpers. His goalscoring leaves something to be desired with a hot start (10 in first 12) nearly half the production. John Tortorella was right that Dubinsky is better suited as a left wing where he can use his size and strength to ward off defenders. His postseason (2-1-3) minus key ingredient Callahan was passable. If that really is the cost following the Sabres' inking Drew Stafford to a four-year $16 million deal, is it really worth it? I'm still not sold.

I really feel both Dubinsky and Callahan should be paid similarly. I wouldn't go higher than what Stafford got, who also has something to prove off his best year statistically. By show of hands, how many Blueshirt fans think that Dubi is more valuable than Cally? One is our next captain while the other is a solid all around player with more ability. Callahan was drafted the same year in Round 4 127th overall. In only 60 games, he was 23-25-48 with 10 PPG and five game-winners. All heart. Had he been healthy, the Rochester native could've made a difference in what was a closer series than the end result against nemesis Washington.

In a perfect world, they both take a little less so it's easier to get everyone else signed and then address the lack of a No.1 center along with a power play quarterback. Why not 3.8 apiece for Dubilan? That would make fiscal sense.

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