Be careful what you wish for. A famous, and yet, very accurate warning for those who think short-term and don't look too far into the future. So what's this have to do with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan? A lot, actually.
When we think about either "New York Rangers rebuilding," "the kids," or even "home grown talent," Dubinsky and Callahan are usually the guys at the top of the list. Both players were drafted by the Rangers, Dubinsky was picked 60th overall in the 2004 NHL entry draft while Callahan was taken with the 127th pick in the same draft.
For whatever reason Rangers fans seem to treat Dubinsky and Callahan the same way pre-pubesent girls treat Edward and Jacob from the Twilight series. You're either on one side of the fence or the other, and you automatically hate whoever disagrees with you. Callahan is better! No, Dubinsky is better! Can't we all just get along?
Anyway, back to my point. Regardless of which one you think is better, you can't disagree that they are both very valuable cogs to the Rangers machine. And for a few years now Rangers fans have been wondering when these two payers were finally going to take the "next step." Well if this season is any indication of the answer to that question, the Rangers might be in some hot water.
How could both Callahan and Dubinsky coming into their own at the same time be a problem for the Rangers? And how exactly are they coming into their own? Join me after the jump to find out.
Currently Callahan has three goals and seven assists for 10 points in eight games. He has been flying all over the ice, dishing out solid hits, fore-checking like a demon and doing all the little things he always does, except this time he is putting up points as well. Despite a six game scoreless streak, he has now scored three goals in as many games.
Dubinsky has a much more even five goals and four assists for nine points in nine games, and he also has been the typical Dubinsky. He has been throwing hits, blocking shots, creating space and wrecking havoc on the power play.
So what's the problem? Both players are in contract years. Astounding, I know, that they seem to be hitting their stride right as the ink officially dries up on their previous contracts; but such is life in the sporting world. It also doesn't help that Artem Anisimov -- who is also off to a great start with three goals and four assists for seven points in nine games -- is also a free agent at the end of the year, as his entry level contract expires at the end of this season.
Dubsinky's current contract has a cap hit of $1.7 million, Callahan's cap hit has a price tag of $2.3 million and Anisimov's cap hit is a measly $821,667 thousand. The only thing that the Rangers have going for them is that all three will become restricted free agents at the end of the year instead of unrestricted free agents. So at least if the Rangers lose them, there will be a compensation package waiting. Obviously this will effect their new contracts, since Glen Sather may be shelling out more money than expected if they both have career years.
Now, of course, we are (well, really I am) getting way ahead of ourselves. This season is only 10% finished. But the signs that I have seen from these three players have been positive. I will again go to the NHL video archives to prove my point.
Take a look at Callahan's goal last night:
Notice anything? Before I should you what I noticed take a look at his goal against the Devils as well:
OK, so focusing on Callahan now (forget that Dubinsky had the dish on the goal against the Devils), notice his positioning. In all of the danger areas, right in front of the net, in the high slot or (at the very least) somewhere around the net.
Same thing goes for Dubinsky, take a peek at his goal against the Islanders earlier in the year:
Again, look at the positioning, in the slot. Dubinsky isn't hanging around the side-boards waiting for something to happen, or floating around the zone looking for space. He's making an effort to get to a danger area, and become a threat for his opposition. On that particular goal he had to do a little legwork to get the shot off, but you see my point.
There has never been any question when it comes to Dubinsky or Callahan's work ethic, character, leadership or heart. Those have all been intangibles that simply make Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky who they are. The type of things that coaches often try to beat into star players, but never seem to find a way to succeed. That's simply because you don't practice having heart, you can't learn how to work your ass off day in and day out off the ice and you can't just become a leader. You're born with it. Some people have it, some people don't.
Callahan and Dubinsky have all those things. What they have been missing (maybe not missing, but missing on a consistent level) is the ability to take over the ice while they are on it. On all of their goals this year (I suppose with the exception of Dubinsky's empty netter against New Jersey) they have been in the right places. Not at the right places at the right time, because those goals weren't the result of a lucky bounce or a fluke play. They have been in the danger zones creating those chances, not having them fall into their lap. The difference is astounding.
Now again, it's only eight games into the season, but I'm loving what I am seeing from the two. They are starting to control the game, instead of just tagging along for the ride. It's a great sign of things to come, and even though the Rangers aren't exactly dominating (it's a long season guys, no need for panic now) they are showing serious signs of life.
OK, that's my thoughts. What about you guys? The floor is yours.