The NHL free agency period is a very exciting time for up-and-coming teams. It can also be a very terrifying time for those teams, and currently, it seems like one for the New York Rangers.
Let me reassure you: it isn't.
Yes, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Mike Sauer and Brian Boyle all filed for arbitration yesterday. Artem Anisimov, the final core member of this year's RFA class, wasn't arbitration eligible so he obviously isn't included on that list. Regardless, Rangers' fans have taken this opportunity to go into a full-force panic.
There's no need, this is simply part of the process.
Although many of you don't want to hear this, Glen Sather is well versed in these types of situations. Although there were longer drawn-out situations with Dubinsky and Marc Staal in the recent past, Sather took care of business and worked out fair and reasonable contracts. I have no doubt we will see the same thing this season.
Although Dubinsky and Callahan are home-grown crowd favorites, you don't just give them whatever contract they want because of it. The rumored $4.5 million a-year deal Dubinsky allegedly wants (remember his camp didn't leak that figure) is above his expected value. It doesn't help that Winnipeg signed Andrew Ladd (a comparable player to Dubinsky) for $4.5 million yesterday, but that doesn't change the situation too much.
Join me after the jump for more.
One of the positives you might not be thinking about when you see a player headed towards arbitration is that they can't be given an offer sheet. This saves another team from giving Dubinsky or Callahan an offer sheet to either force the Rangers hand into signing a contract they don't want to, or lose the player for picks.
The Rangers no longer need to worry about that. Now Sather can take his time with working out a deal with the four who filed for arbitration, and know that there is a pre-determinded date in which a contract will get done. Also, don't think that just because the players are headed for arbitration means they are definitely going.
Sather can easily work out deals with all of them to get them under contract before the hearing.
This, however, does not apply to Anisismov, who might be the one player the Rangers need to be worried about when it comes to offer sheets. But, because the other four are arbitration bound, Sather can focus on Anisimov (who can still be given an offer sheet) and get that taken care of first. Then Sather can turn his crosshairs to the others.
In the end, this current situation is nothing like the original Dubinsky episode. Both sides have ideas of what numbers they want, and if they can't come to an agreement themselves an arbitration will do it for them, probably banging out a favorable deal for the Rangers in the process. The judge might not, but more often than not deals are fair for both sides.
But again, that's if we even make it to a hearing. Callahan, the in-house favorite to don the "C" next season, won't get close to arbitration. I doubt Dubinksy or Sauer make it there either.
Boyle might, since he probably wants a massive raise thanks to his 20-goal performance last season. Sather is probably (deservedly) worried that last year could have been a fluke while Boyle is arguing that it's the beginning of something great. From the outside looking in, you can see why those two sides are farther apart.
Regardless, you shouldn't be worried, and you certainly shouldn't be upset with Sather. In fact, Sather is doing exactly what you want him to, finding ways to keep the Rangers cap as flexible as possible. At this point and time, there is no bad blood between either side. Both camps understand this is part of the business. Sather not wanting to give Dubinsky $4.5 million a-year is not "nickel and dimming" him, it's being realistic. I would use the other's price points as examples too, but we don't know their figures.
If any of the players reach arbitration you can be slightly concerned, but Sather worked through that with Henrik Lundqvist and neither side had any bad blood after the hearing.
So don't be nervous, this will all be taken care of in good time.