The New York Rangers have three remaining restricted free agents and on Friday the NHLPA released the dates for potential arbitration hearings with Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle. Brandon Dubinsky is due up first on July 21, Brian Boyle on July 25 and Ryan Callahan is scheduled last on July 28. The possibility exists that none of the players will ever make it that far and could all sign their new deals in advance of any hearing. The combination of Ryan Callahan being the likely impending captain and Brian Boyle likely getting a short term contract it makes Brandon Dubinsky the most likely to actually get to a hearing.
Brandon Dubinsky was always deemed to be the most difficult of the three to come to terms on a long-term contract. A large part of this assumption was because of his contract holdout two years ago when he and the organization had a much different perception of what Dubinsky was worth. Add to that the fact that Dubinsky is the earliest hearing and the potential for him to make it to a hearing only rises. There is the possibility that the shortened time frame could actually help facilitate a deal because the Rangers would be likely to lose based on the case Dubinsky could present.
For the Rangers the fact that Dubinsky was the team’s leading scorer last season gives him excellent leverage in a hearing in terms of his value to the team. Beyond just leading in goals, assists and points, Dubinsky plays in all situations and has the positional flexibility of both a winger and centr, which only adds value. Additionally he can show that he has improved this scoring production in each season in the NHL while becoming more of a leader within the locker room. All of these things would play well for Dubinsky in the eyes of the arbiter and could lead to a larger reward. Dubinsky winning a larger reward for the upcoming season would only cost the Rangers more if they still seek to complete a long-term deal with their rising forward.
The only way the Rangers could actually benefit from a hearing is if the demands from Dubinsky are astronomical and he is looking to get paid as if he is an unrestricted free agent when he has two years before he has that eligibility. This behooves the Rangers to strike a deal with Dubinsky and look to save some money now while paying more later on in the deal and taking a reasonable cap hit for the full term.
The fact that there is little to be gained in the short term for Dubinsky in avoiding a hearing makes the likelihood of the hearing increase and unless the Rangers are willing to pay more than they might want to in order to get a long-term deal accomplished it is likely that July 21 will have a hearing between the club and Dubinsky and could lead to more hard feelings from another contentious contract negotiation summer.