Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Rising Cost of Keeping Dubinsky Anisimov Callahan

Early in the season when people started to try and project the Ranger salary cap situation for next season the talk was re-signing what is the top line of the club during all the injuries would take somewhere in the range of I believe 7-8 million. I also wrote before in discussing the play of those three early in the year that the only downside as fans to their tremendous work in carrying the club was that the cost of keeping all three of was going to keep rising. Right now if you were to guess at the costs of keeping all of them the projection would go from the initial 7-8 million to possibly as much as say 13 million which is a huge differential and while their play has supported a significant jump I am not sure it is in the long term best interest of the hockey team to spend that much.

I know the team has overpaid so many guys from other clubs to bring them here and never produce in New York. To me that cannot have any bearing on the reality of negotiating with these three even if they are homegrown guys who right now are proving they can play at a very high level for an extended period of time. For me the max number the combination should get right now is probably 11.5 million (depending on length of contracts) with Dubi and Callahan getting 4.5 each and Anisimov getting 2.5. Personally I think paying Dubinsky and/or Callahan any more than that is a mistake and will cause either (more likely from fans, Dubinsky) or both to in the future be sources of derision for not matching the salary.

I have always maintained that skill wise Dubinsky has more upside and if this new found finishing consistency is legitimate he will net 30 this year and get paid, but just don’t see him as a 5 million dollar player. For a guy like Callahan the perfect contract comparison would be a guy like Dustin Brown in LA who is a leader (their captain), physical player who can chip in more production than Callahan has to this point in his career. The Kings took a slightly different path with Dustin as instead of the 2 year deal they went 6 and locked him in cheaper at 3.175 mil per season. Even with that said Brown had a 46 point year before the deal and has proven it to be a tremendous investment with 3 straight 50+ point seasons. The Ranger premium on both Dubinsky and Callahan for not locking them up longer term will probably end up a million a season thus taking what should have been 3-3.5 million cap hits (if don’t two years ago) and turning them into 4-4.5.

On Anisimov I worry to a certain extent because Sather loves to play hardball with the guys who have no leverage in that they have no arbitration rights. We saw it most notably two years ago with Dubinsky who ended up with a cap hit of 1.85 million for the next two years. I wonder if the Anisimov situation will turn out similarly, though I hope that Sather takes more of the approach he took with Staal this past summer in seeking the longer term pact even if the up-front hit is more than say the typical two year deal. To me Anisimov is proving he can be a number one center in this league and at 22 has 3 goals, 8 assists and 11 points in 13 games, 10 of which he has played top line center. If the deal is for two years I see more of a Dubinsky type salary but if the Rangers go and get the longer deal 4-6 years I could see Artem getting a nice bump to maybe 3-3.5 million a year.

If I were the GM my goal going into the offseason or negotiating between now and then would be Dubinsky 6/27; Callahan 4/17; Anisimov 5/16 as that would lock in three homegrown players proving they can play against top competition for most of the prime of their careers as an average of 12 million a season combined.  All of this of course is contingent to some extent on the production remaining high but not as high as it has been to this point.