With Brandon Dubinsky re-signed to a new four-year, $16.8m contract yesterday, the Rangers’ focus now turns to their last remaining restricted free-agent, alternate captain Ryan Callahan.
Before yesterday, many would have expected the pair to sign-on to similar long-term deals, something which should not have changed since. To argue their respective importance would be asinine; both Dubinsky and Callahan are equally important to the long-term future of this team and as such I would be very surprised if the latter didn’t put pen to paper on a Dubinsky-esque deal before next Thursday’s arbitration hearing in Toronto.
Join me after the jump as we take a look at the respective situations concerning two of the Rangers most important players…
As I mentioned before the jump, arguing the individual importance – or more specifically, comparing their importance – to the Rangers would be a thankless task. Both play with an edge and both have similar leadership aspects that see their values rise far beyond their on-ice statistics. Both have trended upwards offensively over the past few seasons, Callahan impressively posting career-bests in terms of goals, assists and points last year despite missing a whopping 22 games through injury.
It’s for that reason that Callahan should be expected to sign a similar deal to Dubinsky at some point during the next six days. 4-5 years, perhaps, at around or just above Dubinsky’s $4.2m annual cap-hit. It could be slightly less and it could be slightly more depending on the years involved, but it’ll certainly be in the same ballpark as yesterday’s deal. Callahan, in his own words, would certainly like to avoid arbitration next week and feels Dubinsky’s contract lays the groundwork for his deal;
“I think it lays the groundwork for my deal”, Callahan said on Thursday.
“I’d love to avoid it [arbitration]. I don’t want to go to arbitration and I don’t think the Rangers want to either. Hopefully we can get something done.”
“I love playing for the Rangers. I love living in New York City, and playing in front of the fans in Madison Square Garden is second to none.”
In terms of unrestricted free-agent years, it has to be noted that Callahan is UFA eligible after next season whereas Dubinsky still has two years of restricted free-agency to run. For that reason it would be pretty safe to assume that Callahan may receive slightly more than Dubinsky on a long-term deal due to buying out an extra UFA year on his contract.
Similar players with similar styles, but buying out that extra UFA year from Callahan will make a slight difference and heighten his cap-hit narrowly above Dubinsky’s. That’s assuming we’re looking at another four-year deal here, which we may not be.
Either way, locking both up to long-term deals would represent a significant marker for the Rangers in terms of solidifying their roster over the next 3-4 years. With Dubinsky, Callahan (hypothetically), Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards all signed for at least the next three seasons, it represents a window of opportunity within which the Blueshirts needn’t worry about their core players in the off-season.