Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Report: Callahan, Dubinsky and Boyle All To File For Arbitration

According to Andrew Gross restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle will all file for arbitration before today’s deadline.  Before anyone gets upset over this happening, the Rangers can still negotiate with all three before any actual arbitration hearings would be held towards the end of July.  In the end this might actually be helpful for the Rangers because it removes the specter of offer sheets and means that deals will be one day or the other in relatively short order.

With Elite Center To Play With Pressure On Gaborik To Produce Will Only Rise

Following a 42 goals, 44 assist opening act on Broadway, Marian Gaborik went into the 2010-11 season with a huge amount of expectations in how he was going to carry the New York Rangers offense.  Through the combination of injuries, revolving lines and his own change in aggressiveness he could not repeat his performance last season finishing with 22 goals and 26 assists while playing in 62 games.  The biggest defense of Gaborik that was lobbied throughout the year was the lack of a first line center to pair with him to allow him to produce as he is capable.  With the signing of Brad Richards that excuse is now gone as he has one of the elite playmakers in the game to play with next year.  

There has been a lot of talk about Richards handling the pressure of New York since signing his massive new deal on Saturday, but Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record shines the light back on Gaborik and what this means for him.
And while Richards surely will deal with the pressure and microscopic scrutiny given his mega-deal — believed to be the longest in Rangers history — the initial focus will be on his new linemate.

Because Richards is a playmaker. Gaborik is a pure scorer.

So, barring injuries, there can be no excuses this season for Gaborik. His production simply has to rival his first season with the Rangers.
That's his responsibility.
Gross is absolutely right here that Gaborik has to take full advantage of playing with Richards and produce in a similar fashion to his first season in New York or the level of blame and dissatisfaction with him will only rise this year.  Gaborik has never played with a center of Richards’ quality and that should make things much easier for the Rangers’ sniper to be a dominant scorer again.  That said, he will also have to correct the issues he had last season with drifting and being content along the wall in order for Richards playmaking to really help him get on the score at the level he is capable of.  Being in the spotlight in New York can be difficult and a lot of pressure for any person, but now Gaborik and Richards have each other and both will be expected to produce at an elite level.

Rangers Roster Far From Set

The frenzy of the first weekend of free agency has settled and the New York Rangers got the number one center they have been craving in Brad Richards, toughness they need in Mike Rupp and retained an important cog in the system with the re-signing of Ruslan Fedotenko.  It was a good weekend for Glen Sather as all of his deals, at least in terms of salary cap charges, came in below what others were paying for relative talent.  The moves and dearth of options available in the free agent market likely takes the Rangers out of it other than for possibly for a Steve Eminger type depth defender.  That does not mean the roster is anywhere near done for the next few months.

Counting Mats Zuccarello the Rangers currently have 10 forwards under contract for next season which does not count restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Brian Boyle.  When all four of those guys are signed the Rangers will have 14 forwards under contract for next season, while having prospects like Carl Hagelin on the verge of being ready for the NHL as well.  This means that something is going to happen in the Rangers’ forward core before opening night whether it be a trade, a buyout or someone gets waived in camp.

Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen are the two names most consistently brought, but the key to the organization’s decision might stem from their decision on what goes on with the various left wing positions and where Brian Boyle is supposed to play in the lineup.  If the Boyle line is kept together, but moved down to the fourth line it has consequences in terms of what types of players are needed in the rest of the lineup.  If they are the third line the Rangers will likely carry more physical or grinding players as the fourth line, but if they are the fourth line then more skill could survive in the lineup.  Either way the Rangers, who did very well during the flurry of free agency, still have big decisions to make on their roster and will use all the avenues available to them to do so.  It is the nature of the business and how championship quality teams are constructed.