Update 12:45pm: David Backes has re-upped with St. Louis for $4.5 million. This deal has a lot more of an effect on Callahan/Dubinsky than Giroux. Backes is 26, the Blues are buying UFA years, and the production/hits are almost identical between the three players. Backes has more size and 30 goals, but Dubi/Cally are better defensively and Dubi has more skill. The Rangers may have just been screwed by St. Louis.
This week, Flyers inked one of their prized young forwards to a fairly lucrative contract extension when they re-upped RW Claude Giroux to a three-year, $11.25 million deal, which averages out to $3.75 million per season. Giroux, 22, is coming off his entry-level deal that earned him $820,000 per season, and is getting a 400% increase in his salary. Last season, Giroux had a line of 16-31-47, good for 5th on the team. During the playoffs, Giroux averaged almost a point per game (10-11-21 in 23 games) during the Flyers run to the Stanley Cup Finals. This year, Giroux is the team’s leading scorer, with a line of 7-7-14 in 15 games.
The Rangers have two key players with expiring contracts this season, with Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan set to become restricted free agents. Both signed two-year deals when their entry level deals expired two years ago, and both received significant raises on their previous deals, though not close to the 400% increase that Giroux had. Both Dubinsky (20-24-44) and Callahan (19-18-37) had similar numbers to Giroux last season, finishing in the Rangers top-five in scoring. Both are having magnificent starts this year as well, and lead the team in scoring.
There are differences between the Dubi/Cally and Giroux of course. Giroux is a first round pick, almost hit 50 points in his first full season, and is on pace for 80 points this season. Giroux also received his enormous raise after is entry level contract expired, and this contract will not be buying out any of his unrestricted free agency years. Dubi/Cally, on the other hand, are 2nd/4th round picks respectively, and have been hovering around 40 points for a couple seasons now. They are also coming off their second contract, but anything longer than two years in a new contract will be eating into their unrestricted free agency years.
In terms of previous production, importance to their respective teams, and production this year, the three players have fairly comparable situations. The Giroux signing gives the players a figure to aim for during negotiations, and essentially sets the market value for Dubinsky and Callahan. Although neither are on Giroux’s level (although Dubinsky sure is playing like he is), buying UFA years will essentially act as the equalizer here.
In the end, I don’t think that Dubinsky or Callahan will get the $3.75 million that Giroux got. He’s just a step above both of them right now. That figure does set market value though, and probably raises what they initially would have gotten in the off season, especially when you look at the seasons they are having right now. I would project them out to get $3 million each at a minimum, and potentially more depending on how many UFA years the Rangers buy out. It’s going to be interesting how these negotiations go, because both players are arbitration eligible (one-year deals), and both are going to attract some offer sheets.