Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Dubinsky Dilemma

When Brandon Dubinsky indicated that he wanted the Rangers after they were ousted from the playoffs, it sounded like the club's leading regular season scorer was intent on getting something done weeks in advance to what could be a potential headache with arbitration scheduled tomorrow. As is his trademark Team President and GM Glen Sather put Brad Richards ahead of a core that also includes possible new captain Ryan Callahan, who if they don't get done, could only get one year before turning unrestricted next summer.

This isn't about criticizing how Slats operates. More over how he handles business. Other players always are priority once July hits. Instead of focusing on re-signing their guys, the Rangers cater to UFA's who have never played here. A risky way to do things even if a higher cap before the CBA expires, dictated the gamble that paid off in landing primary target Richy Rich. There's nothing wrong with Sather utilizing the rules that include tedious arbitration hearings that can sometimes do damage to both sides but usually more so the players due to management understanding the tact they must take.

Not every player can deal with how personal it gets, such as Bobby Holik, who loathed Devil architect Lou Lamoriello's paltry player comparisons to the point that he bolted for Madison Avenue, infuriating former fans. As fate had it, he never matched the success in Jersey, failing to fulfill lofty expectations while John Madden replaced him, helping the Devils win a third Cup.

Nobody knows what's in Dubinsky's mind that could make a guy who put up a career high 54 points (hardly overwhelming) believe he's worth a reported five million over the long-term that the two sides are trying to hammer out before Thursday. At least according to Larry Brooks latest, they're $500,000 apart with the Blueshirts still willing to offer a generous $4.5 million over a 5-6 years. Conversely, the respected Daily News beat writer Jesse Spector has a source that says it's more about length than cash. Which is it? All this led to a huge debate on Twitter involving yours truly along with other respected bloggers @BlueSeatBlogs @TheNYRBlog @RangersTribune and @jessespector himself chiming in, which is why he's so admirable. Diehards like @SomeLikeItBlue and @RangersGal also expressed their own sentiments.

It's what makes Twitter so enlightening. You get to know other fans/bloggers who share the same passion for your club. We all are hoping for the best, which means something between $3.8-4.4 instead of closer to $5 M for a player who still hasn't put up 30 goals or 60 points. If they're able to miraculously reach agreement on a long-term deal, figure the salary will increase with the average probably around $4.75 million. In such a contract, the annual pay would gradually increase, eventually hitting Dubinsky's target of over five million.

Here's where it gets tricky. Before it gets to tomorrow's hearing, the Rangers must decide if it's worth investing that kind of length on a player, who boasts more talent than do everything linemate Ryan Callahan but still lacks consistency. Who do they value more? Cally was the guy with the higher point-per-game production with his return sparking the team to its fifth postseason appearance in six years. Do you pay for potential, trusting Dubi here or allow an arbitrator to go right down the middle ($4.5 M) with a two-year reward meaning he could bolt after '12-13 if there's no work stoppage?

Personally, I like what Dubinsky brings. He's developed into a solid overall player who's flourished since John Tortorella converted him to left wing where he can use his size, strength and speed to an advantage. A superb penalty killer along with Callahan who can also take faceoffs if needed, it's hard not to like him. However, he still suffers some brain camps that are inexplicable which can frustrate fans. His buddy isn't like that, never taking a shift off.

The dilemma is magnified. How much will Callahan want before the end of the month? Shouldn't it be similar to whatever Dubinsky gets? And remember, if they somehow allow Cally to get to arbitration, he goes free next summer. Tough decisions for Slats and Co. to make. Like classic Billy Joel hit, "Pressure," the Rangers are feeling it.

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