Rangers Would Be Wise to Re-sign Brandon Dubinsky Today

By Alexander Monaghan

By Bridget Samuels from College Park, MD (DSC00335.JPG) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by /2.0)

Today, two players — former New York Rangers forward Lauri Korpikoski and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Teddy Purcell — agreed to contracts prior to their arbitration hearings. The Rangers would be wise to do the same with two-way forward Brandon Dubinsky, who is scheduled to undergo his court date tomorrow.

While GM Glen Sather plays hardball with his restricted free agents (See part I and II), alienating his most productive, home-grown forward would prove a costly long-term mistake. At no point will a bitter, mediated debate help the relationship with a player who already helps lead a young locker room. In fact, it may force Dubinsky to leave via free agency in two seasons since the Rangers clearly do not want him as much as he wants to play for them.

One strategy which may come into play is that Dubinsky has still not taken that next step. Instead of paying him on his potential to score 30 goals or get to the 60-70 point plateau, Sather may not want to pay that much for a player who just registered career highs of 24 goals and 54 points. His ice time and role continues to increase with his age but Dubinsky still remains a relative unknown despite his efforts. Nevertheless, his hard-working mentality and leadership should carry him into a settlement around $4-$4.5 million.

This aforementioned mentality could hurt the team by either paying more for Dubinsky later, turning him off from the organization or even affecting his confidence. At the end of last season he expressed his desire to stay with the team and help the younger players transition. Furthermore, newly signed Brad Richards admitted to not waiving his no-trade clause last season in order to play with the talented youngsters this team had to offer, presumably Dubinsky included. Everyone seems to be on a team-first mentality, emphasizing cohesiveness and teamwork. Everyone except Sather who somehow failed to make a shocking signing this past offseason; we can only hope this is not his once-a-year blunder.

Larry Brooks of The New York Post noted that the Collective Bargaining Agreement may change which would prevent Dubinsky from leaving in two seasons via free agency. Although this theory could very well explain Sather’s reasoning, it seems like an incredibly odd gamble to make, especially considering the uncertainty that comes with a new CBA.

With roughly $10.6 million left on the books, this team should be able to freely re-sign Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan to contracts above $4 million. However, the process in which we are witnessing is in no way beneficial to the team or its players. Sather needs to re-sign the two homegrown offensive players or else his team runs the risk of becoming once again a direction-less, overpaid bunch of plugs.

In short, sign Dubinsky today. Sign him tomorrow. Just do so prior to arbitration or risk running the beginning of an identity into the ground, or ice rather. If not, fans can only hope tomorrow’s arbitration hearing does not split the two sides apart permanently.