Today marks day six of the Brandon Dubinsky holdout, and with no end in site I think it is appropriate to look at some of the consequences of this situation for both the Rangers and Dubinsky himself.
Let's start with Dubinsky. Thus far Dubinsky has missed six days of camp and two pre-season games. He is missing vital conditioning sessions that will help John Tortorella's team survive through this up-tempo system. He has not taken any "reps" as a center with Marian Gabroik and quite frankly Vinny Prospal is making a serious case for being the first line center even if Dubinsky signed today.
The point that cannot be stressed enough is that this is a completely new system. Every single player on this team is learning a new system. No one has played in John Tortorella's up-tempo system--and no the last 17 games of the season don't count--and are still learning the nuances. Dubinsky needs to be with his team to learn the system and learn how to execute it, and he is not.
I have to be completely honest with you here, Dubinsky has done some damage that may be irreparable. John Tortorella is upset with him--and he should be--and we all know how Tortorella coaches; he gives time to those who earn it. Dubinsky has earned nothing so far. Plus, the more time Dubinsky holds out, the more time the Rangers get to become comfortable without him there.
Let's take a look at the Rangers situation with and without him. First we will break down the roster assuming that Dubinsky signs:
Click after the jump for the analysis if Dubinsky does not sign:
If Dubinsky is gone then Prospal would probably move from wing to center--which is his original position--and in yesterdays pre-season game he played well. His passes were crisp and his transition from defense to offense through the neutral zone was seamless. He cycled the puck well, he made room for his winger and he was able to get them the puck when they were open. Don't forget that Prospal has been taking all of the first line "reps" so this would be a pretty easy move.
Who are the people that can fill this prospect role?
Grachev: I have to say in the two games I've seen him play he looked great. He was competent on both ends of the ice and he really showed a great hockey IQ. His passes were perfect and he did a wonderful job setting up a few of his line-mates for great scoring chances. Plus he knows how to use his frame and was muscling people off the puck and was brilliant in the corners. He could easily fill that open spot on the third line, and an Avery-Anisimov-Grachev line looks awesome to me.
Lisin: The Rangers may have something in Enver Lisin. He is scoring goals in the scrimmages and has been using his speed to get chances during the pre-season games. He did botch a scoring chance on a perfect feed from Grachev, but aside from that I have had no problems with his game. He hustles for the puck in the offensive zone and he works his tail off to get back into the defensive zone. I have loved his play and I am beginning to like this move. He can fill that 3rd line spot as well if the Rangers want to give Grachev more time to develop in the AHL.
Byers: Byers looked pretty good thus far in the pre-season. His shots were good and he looked comfortable in the offensive zone. I can tell you that if Byers makes the team he will find himself on the 4th line and Lisin will move to the third line.
Basically the point I am trying to make here is that Dubinsky is truly hurting himself during this holdout. I have to be honest the Rangers don't look any worse without him there, and actually it would be exciting to see Grachev in the NHL this year. Overall here at the Banter we are officially taking the "if he signs he signs if he doesn't he doesn't, we are done worrying about him" position. What do you think?