Guest Blogger: AddiesDad (aka Forechecker on HFBoards) and on Twitter
What? It's September 1st, and Brandon Dubisnky hasn't been signed, yet? OH NOES!!!!! Surely a sign of the apocalypse, no? No, no it's not.
As most of us know, Dubi did not have the leverage that Ryan Callahan did going into his RFA season, and thus was never going to get the attention early in the off-season. Also, as a center, which I believe take longer to develop than wings, Dubi hasn't come as obviously far as Cally has. That's not a knock on Dubi at all, just my opinion what that each has achieved in their short, but strong, careers. What I do believe, is that Brandon Dubinsky is a key cog to the long term future of the organ-eye-zay-shun, and this is a major reason why the signing is taking so long.
Glen Sather and company (who know who actually does the nitty gritty stuff) knew they had more time to work with Dubi and his contract, but they also have a responsibility to the organization to run down all the potential free agents/trade possibilities before concentrating on their #1 center: Brandon Dubinsky (hey, see what I did there! Dubi = #1 center). What this all means is that in all likelihood Dubi will start the season on a short-term contract (1 year?) at something north of his qualifying offer of $698,000 (maybe 2-3x), as they did with Henrik Lundqvist a couple of years ago. In January, as Dubi continues to prove he can center Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan as the top center, Slats et al will get down to he business of a long term, multi million dollar contract. Unfortunately, the inscrutable fact here is the salary cap situation the Rangers are in, and Dubi & Slats need to figure out what the magic numbers are that allow Dubi to stay in blue until he becomes a free agent in a few years without causing more cap headaches. Is it right for Slats to force this position on Dubi? No, but it's a reality that he, and pretty soon Marc Staal, have to face if they wish to remain in Broadway Blue. Besides, Slats has one more cigar up that sleeve of his: Mark Messier.
Now, does anyone really think that His Captain-ness was brought in to be Slats' errand boy, or otherwise passively learn the ins-and-outs of being a GM? No, and if you did please make your way to an Islanders blog until you are recalled. Seriously, if Garth Snow can become a relatively competent GM in the matter of a few months, I am sure Mess is more than capable of handling the duties.
ANYWAY, I've been thinking a lot of Mess' return to the Garden, and I believe it is an extremely astute and clever decision by Slats (with much input from Adam Graves I am sure) to give Dubi a reason to be being patient with the contract negotiation process. Why? What could this reason be? Dubi has the promise to be a physical center with strong leadership qualities and pot more than his share of goals and assists. Sound familiar? While Mess will undoubtedly learn much about running a team, and be constantly rumored to replace John Tortorella at the first protracted slump of the season, I think an unofficial, but primary, role will be to tutor young Dubisnky in what it means to be the #1 center for the Rangers on and off the ice. The first sign of this will be replacing the canned, post-game cliches Dubi picked up from Gomez with more honest, but team strengthening, comments to the media coupled with a bit more snarl on the ice. This potential relationship with a mentor like Messier could go a very long way to easing the sting of taking a less than desired contract, and also send a huge message about what it means to be a team player. I believe the organization sees Dubi has the to Drury's "C", and who better to prime Dubi for this honor than Mess himself?
Finally, EVERYONE is saying the right things here, and as Steve Zipay and other beat writers have mentioned, Dubi probably wouldn't be on the ice this week if he didn't think something was coming soon. This is a non-issue that has been fanned into a California wild fire, mostly because we're bored after all the drama happened so early in the off-season. I honestly believe that not only will Dubi be signed in short-order, but we are witnessing the grooming of one of those truly rare athletes. He may not be the flashiest player on the team, but I can't think of another player who may have more of a long term impact on the team than young Dubinsky, and I have little doubt about what the future holds for him.
Thanks to Declan/PuckCentral for letting me post my meandering thoughts here, and maybe I'll even be invited back!