Rangers Give Brandon Dubinsky Four Years to Live Up To Potential

New York Rangers left wing Brandon Dubinsky (17) screens Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) during game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. The Rangers beat the Capitals, 3-2. The Capitals lead the series 2 games to 1.

The Rangers did a relatively impressive job in holding Brandon Dubinsky to a four-year, $16.8 million, arbitration-avoiding contract.

According to some, the big issue in getting the contract done was money and length of contract. According to others, the issue was just contract length.

If the proceedings had a feeling of deja vu, it’s because back in 2009, Dubinsky held himself out of Rangers training camp while negotiating a new contract. Eight days later, Dubinsky had a nice, new contract.

There were two interesting issues at play for this edition of Get Dubinsky Signed. One was the Rangers’ reluctance to commit to Dubinsky. He’s coming off of the best year of his young career, but it wasn’t an incredibly impressive career year for a guy entering his fifth NHL season. Dubinsky’s 24 goals puts him firmly in the NHL’s top 60 goal-scorers for last season. Plus, consider Dubinsky’s two goals and one assist in the playoffs.

When linemate Ryan Callahan went down in February, Dubinsky stepped up for the Rangers, but went Callahan went down again in April, Dubinsky just wasn’t the same player.

My sense is that this is what concerned the Rangers and why they didn’t want to go any longer than they felt they needed to with Dubinsky. They obviously didn’t want to spend too much on a player who might disappear. But even more pressing than the salary issue, they didn’t want to be locked into a bubble player for too long.

As confident as Rangers’ management is in the Brad Richards signing, they have to know that Richards is a risk, and they must now temper that risk with safer signings.

Dubinsky is not a sure thing.

Now keep in mind, prior to the start of last season, Dubinsky’s career year, I declared the Rangers were giving up on Dubinsky and that Dubinsky would officially be declared a bust.

Obviously, I was very, very wrong. But while Dubinsky has shown some ability, he has yet to show ability over the course of a season.

One could argue he was worn down from trying to cover for the Rangers’ many injured players last season. But that still doesn’t mean the upcoming season will be any different.

Which brings up the other concern. Dubinsky has shown fire and drive in his contract negotiations, which is fine. You cannot begrudge a player for trying to earn what he thinks he is worth. But it seems there is a consistent disconnect between the value Team Dubinsky thinks he brings to the table versus what the Rangers wish to pay him. And the Rangers are not a franchise renowned for their fiscal restraint.

Is it just a matter of management not wanting to give a home-grown player his proper economic due? Or does Dubinsky greatly overestimate his talents? My concern is that it’s the latter.

Dubisnky is an intriguing players who has shown some flashes of grit and talent. He’s played well with Callahan, also yet to be re-signed, and seems to be a team leader.

Dubinsky certainly should not have accepted a contract for less than he thinks he is worth or for less years than he thinks he deserves, but he might also want to look at his play last season and see if there were times when his career season could have been an even bigger career season.

Dubinsky is a young player who seems to be growing into his potential, but the question on the table seems to be ‘Is Dubinsky working as hard as he can to reach that potential as quickly as possible?’

I would argue if he had better established that last season, the Rangers would have been less concerned about a longer, more expensive contract, and this current deal would have been completed with a lot less drama.