What Are They Worth - Brandon Dubinsky

Let me hear your war cry! (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

We're just one week away now from the first of the three arbitration hearings scheduled for the New York Rangers, that of Brandon Dubinsky.  Last year at this time, I looked at the progression of Dubinsky's career, and came to the conclusion that with some more shots on goal and more consistency, he could develop into a solid first liner.  He certainly showed both of those qualities this year, but the question still exists among the fan base on whether he can reach that next level.  To get a clearer picture, I decided to take a look at some comparable players, and see if we can estimate his value going forward.

To start off, I ran a search through hockey-reference.com, searching for the combined seasons of all players who played at least 200 games, between ages 22 and 24, post-lockout.  That list produces 59 players, ranging in points from Alex Ovechkin (331) to Ryan Hollweg (12).  From that list, I narrowed it down to all of those within 0.1 of Dubinsky's point per game average (0.61).  That list gives 22 players.

The details of these players can be found after the jump.

Name Year Year Team GP G A P p/m EV PP SH S S% TOI PPG
Loui Eriksson  2008 2010 DAL  233 79 86 165 15 59 17 3 512 15.4 4214 0.71
Pierre-Marc Bouchard  2007 2009 MIN  234 49 117 166 19 36 13 0 444 11 3881 0.71
Dustin Brown  2007 2009 LAK  239 74 85 159 -49 40 32 2 706 10.5 4651 0.67
Travis Zajac  2008 2010 NJD  246 59 104 163 44 42 16 1 550 10.7 4559 0.66
Devin Setoguchi  2009 2011 SJS  223 73 69 142 14 50 23 0 610 12 3479 0.64
Nikolai Zherdev  2007 2009 TOT  235 59 92 151 -22 44 14 1 637 9.3 4120 0.64
Jussi Jokinen  2006 2008 TOT  235 47 98 145 -4 27 20 0 359 13.1 3280 0.62
Joe Pavelski  2007 2009 SJS  208 58 69 127 10 33 21 4 584 9.9 3365 0.61
Brandon Dubinsky  2009 2011 NYR  228 57 82 139 0 39 13 5 555 10.3 4271 0.61
Wojtek Wolski  2009 2011 TOT  231 49 93 142 14 43 5 1 499 9.8 3998 0.61
Andrei Kostitsyn  2008 2010 MTL  211 64 63 127 9 40 24 0 461 13.9 3321 0.6
Kris Versteeg  2009 2011 TOT  237 63 80 143 14 39 16 8 503 12.5 3990 0.6
Mikko Koivu  2006 2008 MIN  203 37 80 117 10 21 14 2 402 9.2 3474 0.58
Joffrey Lupul  2006 2008 TOT  218 64 63 127 -40 38 24 2 644 9.9 3630 0.58
Chris Higgins  2006 2008 MTL  223 72 56 128 -12 39 27 6 548 13.1 3717 0.57
Drew Stafford  2008 2010 BUF  214 50 67 117 10 35 15 0 467 10.7 3128 0.55
Patrick O'Sullivan  2008 2010 TOT  236 49 81 130 -49 36 8 5 670 7.3 4364 0.55
David Backes  2007 2009 STL  203 54 54 108 -8 41 11 2 426 12.7 3165 0.53
Ryan Kesler  2007 2009 VAN  210 53 59 112 10 35 14 4 444 11.9 3908 0.53
Lee Stempniak  2006 2008 STL  219 54 63 117 -12 38 16 0 428 12.6 3296 0.53
Nikolai Kulemin  2009 2011 TOR  233 61 63 124 -1 52 7 2 447 13.6 3705 0.53
Andrew Ladd  2008 2010 TOT  227 46 71 117 41 45 1 0 474 9.7 3108 0.52
Blake Wheeler  2009 2011 TOT  244 57 70 127 42 48 6 3 488 11.7 3720 0.52

 

The list has a very eclectic group of players.  Some are bonafide first liners, like Mikko Koivu and Loui Eriksson.  Some are second in command to Hall of Fame level centers, like Joe Pavelski and Ryan Kesler.  Others, like ex-Rangers Nikolai Zherdev and Christopher Higgins, have been reduced to 3rd line role players.

From here, I could just grab the average salaries of these players and call it a day, but the truth is that very few on this list signed deals after their 24 year old season (just 6), and even fewer signed multi-year deals (only Loui Eriksson and Chris Higgins).  That leaves us with a very uneven comparison of how Dubinsky's contract should be treated.  Instead, I'm going to use the same tool I used in my Brad Richards article.  That tool was GVT, or Goals versus Threshold.  As a reminder, GVT is a statistic that measures a player's value above replacement level

Bdgvt_medium

You'll see I also added a third group here, which is post-1999 season comparables using the same criteria, ages 22-24, 200 games played, between 0.51 and 0.71 points per game.  This added Radek Dvorak, Patrick Marleau, Michal Handzus, Mark Parrish, Mike York, J.P. Dumont, Jochen Hecht, Brenden Morrow, and Kyle Calder to the above group.  The addition was necessary to help smooth out the trendlines, and also give a better picture of the post-prime years.

The two comparable groups are fairly close in value (not surprising given the considerable overlap), showing an average peak at 26 years old of about 12.4 GVT, contributing around 10 over the course of the 'prime' years, and then tailing off around age 29-30.  Brandon Dubinsky's trendline shows a much steeper ascent and descent, but the same general peak at around 12 GVT.  

How does this translate to dollars?  Rob Vollman showed that each GVT is worth $333k.  Two years ago, that number was actually $344k, while last year it moved to $356k.  Since GVT is by definition constant, it makes sense that as cap spending goes up, so would the amount spent per goal.  With the cap increasing again this year, we could expect that number to in to increase again, to approximately $367k next year. 

The trendline estimates that Dubinsky will be worth 46.67 GVT for the next 4 years, so at that spend rate, Dubinsky would be worth $17.129m over 4 years, for a cap hit of $4.28m per year.  That number is right in line with the $4-4.5m that many have speculated he will sign for, given recent deals such as Andrew Ladd's.  So we've shown that it would in fact be fair value for Brandon, as long as he continues to produce at the rate he's progressing to.  If he follows the trend of Ryan Kesler (35.1 GVT over the last two years), he could actually be a considerable bargain.

The question is, will the Rangers feel the same way?  Tell us what you think.

Special thanks to Tom Awad for making the GVT data readily available to the public.

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