Entering this offseason, the New York Rangers sought a first-line center and also needed to sign five of their own restricted free agents. Early Thursday, they’d officially checked off five of those priorities, signing valuable two-way left-winger Brandon Dubinsky to a four-year, $16.8 million contract — just hours before he was due to enter an arbitration hearing.
Nothing is worse for a team and an integral player than arbitration, where the team often says a player is worth marginally lower than what the player is asking for … and must present its reasons why that’s the case. Going to arbitration also means the Rangers would’ve had to relive the negotiations with Dubinsky in two years. The fact that the Rangers avoided this whole thing is a victory in itself.
Another benefit to this contract is that the Rangers keep someone who could be considered one of the most important players on the team — and at 25-years-old, seems to only be improving. Dubinsky led the Blueshirts with 24 goals and 30 assists last season, but more notably, he played in all situations and was one of the few players that coach John Tortorella trusted at all times. He was also one of the better penalty killers on the team. Plain and simple, Dubinsky may not have the offensive game to be a top-line player, but he is very difficult to play against because he’s relentless, isn’t afraid to bang bodies and get dirty to win pucks and score goals. His maturation has been admirable, as he’s become a core member and a player who embodies the style this team has grown into under Tortorella.
With Dubinsky signed, the Rangers now have approximately $6.5 million left to sign right winger Ryan Callahan and potentially a veteran sixth defenseman. There is also another buyout window after Callahan gets signed, which the Rangers may need to give them some in-season flexibility.
Now, the focus shifts to signing what many consider to be their captain-in-waiting.