Dubinsky’s Deal and a CBA Must

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.

23 Responses to “Dubinsky’s Deal and a CBA Must”

  1. Zen says:

    I agree that neither Dubi nor Cally are worth the money they are getting in terms of their own individual ability. All you have to do is look at their career point totals to see that. And it is even scarier that they would get more on the open market. Paying any payer who is strictly a 2nd liner anything over $4M is tough to swallow for me, especially when you are doing it for TWO similar players. They bring so much else to the game (obviously) than just scoring, but you don’t win unless you can put the puck in the net. You pay for scoring, not a strong two-way game or being unbelievable PK-ers. It should be interesting in a couple years if neither player becomes a more consistent scorer.

  2. The Suit says:

    I agree that there was way too much money handed out to UFAs and RFAs this summer. With that said, the only thing that is going to control all of this is the cap.

    Had the cap been $58-59 million, then those guys would have never received the money that they did. Whether or not a 20-25 goal scorer is worth over $4 mill is relative to what the cap is.

    More cap space = higher contracts. How they renegotiate everything CBA-wise remains to be seen, but count on a dog fight because a lot of owners aren’t happy about it.

    • The Suit says:

      I have to say though; your first two paragraphs are pretty contradictory. Pick an angle and stick with it kid ;)

      • Chris says:

        contradictory?! moi? inflammatory perhaps! I just used a different angle to get into my mini rant.

        You can do something on the CBA and contract caps. That’s your area! ;)

    • Dave says:

      I can’t wait to see how the new CBA effects these contracts. The cap floor is why all these teams spent money.

  3. Mikeyyyy says:

    Blasphemers. :).

  4. joey says:

    how you gonna criticize the mike richards contract? It is more than fair and he is a stud

    • Chris says:

      dude its 12 years… thats nuts. i wouldnt even give Sid or AO 10+ years

      • joey says:

        but you would give brad richards 9? keep in mind mike was significantly younger when he signed his deal, just entering his prime, while brad is likely already past his

        • Chris says:

          No I would not have, as I’ve stated I have reservations about BR’s deal too. I love the player, love the cap hit, dislike the term. I’d have maxed my offer for BR at 7 years and that was because he was a desperate need.

  5. RangerSmurf says:

    “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.”

    I’m bringing the argument from twitter over here, tired of the 140 limit.

    The frenzy of free agency and the excitement that baseball’s ‘hot stove’ gets is, IMO, completely star driven. No one but the diehard truly cares where guys like Dubinsky, Laich, or Leino actually ends up.

    Even Brad Richards struggled to get much MSM attention outside of hockey circles, and he should be a star in the hockey world.

    The average sports fan has no clue who anyone in hockey is outside of Crosby/Ovechkin, who are pushed at every opportunity. That’s where the problem lies. Create more stars, even if it dilutes the word “star,” and you’ll get more buzz, both on/off ice.

    The imminent NBA lockout is their opportunity to do so (much as the NBA forced it’s way back in with the NHL lockout), but I have little faith they’ll actually capitalize.

    • Dave says:

      It depends on the coverage by NBC/VS. They need to make it work so that they force ESPN to show highlights.

      • The Suit says:

        The problem isn’t the creation of stars, it’s the promotion of its current stars.

        The NHL doesn’t spend money promoting its stars to the outside world (its called off channel marketing), which is a huge mistake. They should be buying more commerical time on ESPN, billboards in major cities, etc. Why they don’t is beyond me.

        The NHL’s coverage is weak because the ratings are weak. ESPN and other major news sources argument is, “why should we spend time promoting a sport that A) isn’t on our channel and B) doesn’t produce significant ratings. It sucks, and it’s small-minded thinking, but that is what the NHL is up against.

        The NHL needs to move the ratings dial and everything else will fall into place in terms of coverage. But the marketing spend needs to increase.

        • RangerSmurf says:

          What I meant by “creation” of stars is that when in doubt, market the guy, especially the smaller teams. Get Weber or Rinne’s name out there. Get Evander Kane’s name out. Get Tavares’ name out there. There’s alot of good young talent that even people reading through the media guides probably don’t know about.

          Otherwise, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Get the brand out there away from NBC/Vs, and the buzz will come naturally, rather than trying to artificially create it with contractual rules that won’t have much effect.

  6. Section 121 says:

    Sorry, can someone fill me in on the meaning of IMO?

    I know I’m a bit outdated, but hey, at least I still don’t have an AOL e-mail address!

  7. Matt J says:

    They should have taken the ESPN deal even though they would have gotten less money. Versus gives no exposure to the sport. I don’t even care if they would have shown most games on ESPN 2. It’s better than Versus.

    • The Suit says:

      Versus will never be ESPN, but hopefully with NBC money behind it, the channel will be bigger than before.

  8. Richter1994 says:

    “Fair market value” = the amount someone is willing to pay, period. The bottom line is the RFAs and FAs this year are singing in the streets because THEY were fortunate enough to be RFAs and FAs in a TERRIBLE FA year. I mean look at what players like Wisniewski, Bryz, etc. got. As mentioned, secondary players (we’ll see how well Bryz does) got top money. Given the circumstances Sather was brilliant to sign the main FA target (BR) and Dubi to very reasonable respective contracts.