Brandon Dubinsky is not a $4.2m hockey player. Sorry, but amid all the Dubi love (of which I have plenty myself) it seems to be forgotten that the market is still inflated and the Rangers forward is another grateful beneficiary both in the dollar and length he received.
I must apologise though, as that first line was simply an instigator, inciting comment if you will. Brandon Dubinsky IS a $ 4.2m hockey player in this market. The problem though is that too many secondary scorers are getting a lot of money and insane term. Likely to be even worse than Dubinsky’s deal, will be Ryan Callahan’s new pact. Callahan is a great player for the Rangers; I’m obviously not disputing that. A leader, a defensively responsible, courageous forward but relatively limited offensively. Should ‘intangibles’ warrant a big pay day?
I hate to agree with Brian Burke (there’s only so much I can hear the word truculent) but the Leafs GM is right – to an extent – when he repeatedly bemoans several of the contracts being tossed around the league recklessly; but it does all come back to supply and demand. Dubinsky in particular is a worthy case to discuss. Blessed with size and a healthy dose of skill, as well as a ton of experience at a young age; despite all this Dubinsky still isn’t really a top line player on most teams – fact. However, due to the increasingly limited availability of genuine talent (of which this summer’s free agency period was exhibit A) Dubinsky would have made more this summer had he been available for offers.
As you can see, this post is perhaps less about the generous Dubinsky/Callahan deals and more about the general managers who give out 12 year deals to players such as Mike Richards or 9 year deals to players such as Ilya Bryzgalov… good players but not genuinely elite players. I have always had a preference for shorter terms deals because it keeps an element of pressure on the player to earn the next deal. Even with a legitimately elite center like Brad Richards, my main concern with acquiring him was whether he’d still be hungry half way in to a decade long deal. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I’m not an expert in the business side of the NHL (I guess that’s Suit’s forte) but one thing that I will be watching particularly closely in the next deal is the presence of a maximum contract length. It needs to go further than just a number though. If the Rangers give Ryan McDonagh the maximum 5 year deal when the time arrives to sign him up they should not be able to re-negotiate until at least half way in to the deal, or something on those lines.
What I mean is that there needs to be measures in place to make sure the league doesn’t have free agency periods like this year when good players got great contracts and average players also got far too much. The NHL has a hard time competing with the other major leagues as it is so providing frequent player movement, spectacular trades and free agent signings helps the league elbow itself in to the limelight occasionally. Does anyone outside of hockey circles care that Ville Leino got 4.5m a year from Buffalo? Hell no, but I bet there’d be plenty of website clicks if Sid Crosby or Alex Ovechkin made it to free agency.