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Rangers win on Dubinsky arbitration gamble with 4-year deal

There's been so much hardball played between the New York Rangers and Brandon Dubinsky(notes) over the last two years, they should hold their contract negotiations in the Yankee Stadium batter's box.

There was that Dubinsky holdout in 2009, which GM Glen Sather called "a little foolish." This summer, the 25-year-old forward watched the Rangers open a bank vault for Brad Richards(notes) over the next nine years while refusing to meet Dubinsky's asking price on a long-term deal of his own.

Instead, the two sides went to arbitration on Thursday morning ... and the Rangers ended up getting Dubinsky to sign on for four years at a very reasonable price.

According to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet, Dubinsky and the Rangers agreed to a four-year deal worth $16.8 million. Tim Wharnsby of CBC Sports has the annual salaries at $3.75 million, $3.75 million, $4.65 million and $4.65 million.

Why was this a victory for the Rangers?

To understand how well the Rangers did here, understand the brief history of the negotiations.

Larry Brooks of the NY Post reported that Dubinsky wanted a long-term deal with an annual cap hit around $5.25 million, and the Rangers were coming in around $500,000 cheaper per season on their offer.

If $5.25 million sounds rather high for Dubinsky, that's because it is: His 54 points and 24 goals were career highs last season; but consider that a player Bobby Ryan(notes) makes $5.1 million and a player like Ryan Kesler(notes) makes $5 million.

Then came Thursday, and the potential for arbitration.

From the NY Post:

Sources with knowledge of the briefs submitted on behalf of the 25-year-old winger and on behalf of the club have told The Post that Dubinsky has requested a contract worth $4.6 million while the Rangers have come in at $2.8 million.

While the gulf appears exceptionally wide, Elizabeth Neumeier, the arbitrator presiding over the case, is empowered to select any figure between the parties' requests. As such, the disparity in the submissions should not ring any alarm bells, given that they are strategic rather than necessarily reasonable.

What would have Dubinsky ended up with? Look at the players whose salaries will likely be cited in the arbitration process. Consider that Travis Zajac(notes) (26) of the New Jersey Devils and Nathan Horton(notes) (26) of the Boston Bruins both carry $4.5 million salaries next season.

The Rangers could have gambled that Dubinsky's arbitration didn't end up with him earning $4.6 million against the cap next season -- the Rangers had $10.6 million under the cap, via Cap Geek.

Instead, they inked him to a four-year deal that has an annual cap hit of $4.2 million. That's Mike Fisher(notes) territory, slightly more than Drew Stafford(notes). Dubinsky, it could be argued, is better than both.

The Dubinsky contract also shouldn't dramatically affect the contract value for Ryan Callahan(notes), whose own arbitration hearing is next week and who is also seeking a long-term deal.

The Rangers qualified Callahan at $2.4 million. He had 48 points in 60 games last season, which is a better points-per-game average than Dubinsky. Callahan led the Rangers with 10 power-play goals and averaged more short-handed ice time (2:13) than Dubinsky (2:05).

Most tantalizing, according to Kevin Oklobzija of the Democrat and Chronicle: "If he only signs a one-year contract, will become an unrestricted free agent next summer."

Please recall Callahan's agent saying the following to NorthJersey.com:

Dubinsky's agent, Kurt Overhardt, called filing "part of the process" while Callahan's agent, Steve Bartlett said talks so far had been "amicable" but said Callahan would be attractive as an unrestricted free agent, which he could be next summer.

"The Rangers have been complimentary about Cally and the role he plays, I don't think anybody doubts that," Bartlett said. "I know he's a coveted player around the league. Fast forward a year and see what Ryan Callahan could demand on the market."

Callahan's going to make bank. But how much did Dubinsky's ruling affect that value?

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