Monday, August 1, 2011

Did Staal, Callahan, Dubinsky Really Take Less To Stay Rangers?

In his column yesterday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post contended that both Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan this year and Marc Staal last season took less to return to the New York Rangers this summer.

Callahan took less to stay, there is no doubt about that. Dubinsky probably took less to stay. Marc Staal (five years at $3.975M per) probably took less to stay under the contract he signed last summer.
These are the Bluebloods. This is what you want from your core. These are the character people you want at your core.
More after the jump...

While I agree that these three are the kind of core players and people you want to build you team around, the contention that any or all of them took less to stay in New York is somewhat of a stretch for me.  The Staal contract from last summer clearly looks like a steal given the kind of money that was thrown around to defensemen this summer, but given his restricted status, lack of offensive production and years remaining until free agency it is hard to argue that he took less when being paid close to the rate unrestricted players were getting a year ago.  For example, Dan Hamhuis signed a six-year, $27 mil deal with Vancouver as an unrestricted free agent last summer as a very similar player to Staal.  Hamhuis average $4.5 mil cap hit is greater than Staal’s $3.975, but Hamhuis had UFA status while Staal had four seasons left to obtain that status.  Staal is a steal at under $4 mil per season, but he was also well paid considering his status.

The Callahan and Dubinsky contracts were negotiated in a summer in which money was being thrown around both by teams looking to contend and those looking to reach the cap floor and players were vastly overpaid all over the place.  Through that lens it is easy to call their deals excellent values, which I have, but you cannot compare what they would have gotten on the unrestricted market to what they signed for being one and two years respectively away from it to say they took less.  It is easy when Ville Leino is getting $4.5 mil per season to assume that both Callahan and Dubinsky likely would have gotten that and maybe more as unrestricted free agents this year, but they weren’t so that comparison is a moot point. Similar to the situation between Staal and Hamhuis, Dubinsky had two seasons and Callahan one to achieve UFA status, so they got less than those who had it.  

An even bigger fallacy is to then say, at least for Callahan and Dubinsky, that they could have taken more with an offer sheet because both elected for arbitration taking that option off the table to them.  Beyond that, the fact that teams seem so afraid of the stigma that comes with using the offer sheet to sign opposing players has made any leverage a player would have from it and fear a team would have of it null and void.

There is a difference between the Rangers getting good long-term value on how they locked up their core players to conclude their restricted free agent years and start unrestricted years and saying those players sacrificed money to stay in New York.  It is true that the players could have taken deals just to get them to unrestricted status looking to get paid and in that sense they committed longer to the Rangers than they had to, but their deals were fair for the respective situations, even if they end up steals for the Rangers over the course of their existence.