- Last Updated: 3:34 PM, July 20, 2011
- Posted: 1:06 AM, July 20, 2011
It's the money.
If Brandon Dubinsky and the Rangers go to salary arbitration as scheduled tomorrow in Toronto, it will be a result of the parties' failure to reach an agreement on a long-term deal covering five or six seasons, well-placed sources have told The Post.
Dubinsky, the 25-year-old winger, led the team in goals, assists and points last year (24-30-54) and ranks second in each category (44-54-98) behind Marian Gaborik (64-70-134) over the past two years. He is believed to be seeking in the neighborhood of $5 million to $5.25 million per year on a long-term deal while the Rangers are believed to be offering approximately $500,000 less per season.
For the sake of comparison, Winnipeg winger Andrew Ladd just signed a five-year deal worth $4.4 million per year. The Rangers would not trade Dubinsky for Ladd. On the other hand, Anaheim winger Bobby Ryan is entering the second year of a five-year deal worth $5.1 million per. The Ducks would not consider dealing Ryan for Dubinsky.
The collective bargaining agreement's looming expiration following this season has complicated the negotiations. Under the current regulations, Dubinsky could become a free agent in 2013. As such, he would potentially be yielding three years of unrestricted free agent money on a five-year deal.
It is expected, however, that the league will seek to increase the age and eligibility requirements for free agency in the next CBA, meaning that the Rangers could well have an additional year or two of control over Dubinsky's contract once the new labor agreement is completed.
Further complicating the talks with Dubinsky is the concurrent ongoing negotiation with Group II bookend Blueblood winger Ryan Callahan, whose own arbitration hearing is scheduled for a week from tomorrow.
Callahan, whose stats are slightly worse than Dubinsky's for the last two seasons (42-43-85, .62 points per game as opposed to .67), would be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July 1, before the CBA expires. He certainly will use Dubinsky's contract in his negotiations for a multi-year deal and/or in his arbitration hearing.
Arbitration is part of the process and the league's business model. The Rangers, whose case will be presented by newly installed assistant general manager Jeff Gorton, should be careful not to make their presentation an attack on Dubinsky. Indeed, the best plan would be to submit their numbers and comparables while otherwise remaining silent. The 25-year-old winger is, after all, an integral part of the team and the program.
It is believed Dubinsky will earn between $3.8 million to $4.4 million through arbitration in a system where the arbitrator generally comes as close as possible to splitting the difference between the team's and player's submissions. The absence of either/or baseball-style arbitration allows the respective parties to be unrealistic in their submissions. Neither side should take it personally.
The Rangers have the option of electing a two-year award, but there is a sense the club may go for a one-year award, though it is unclear what advantages this strategy would yield.
The Rangers are close to an agreement to bring back 27-year-old free-agent defenseman Steve Eminger, The Post has learned. Eminger, who earned $1.1 million in his role as sixth or seventh defenseman last year, likely will come in at between $750,000 to $900,000.Follow @NYPostsports