Even though signing Brad Richards was summer priority number one and he is officially signed, sealed and delivered to Manhattan, the Rangers still have a lot of work to do in preparation for the start of the 2011-2012 regular campaign. With five key RFA's, four of whom filed for arbitration, Slats still has some work to do before heading off on his annual summer vacation.
Many Rangers fans were nervous about the RFA's and rightfully so. Just two years ago Brandon Dubinsky was embroiled in a contentious negotiation with the club and his situation was not resolved until after the start of training camp. Coach Tortorella was displeased and went public with his unhappiness. Given how popular Dubi is with other clubs and his acrimonious negotiating history with the club, it wouldn't have been entirely surprising to see an offer sheet come his way.
Instead, Dubinsky along with Callahan, Sauer and Boyle all filed for arbitration ahead of the deadline. Doing so precludes them from signing offer sheets and guarantees each of those players will be in NY by the start of camp as long as the Rangers don't walk away from any arbitration award. This is a good thing and lessens the pressure to get a deal done right away. In fact, both parties are sure about the other's intentions. The players want to be there and the club wants those players in NY. That fact should make re-signing those guys easier.
Not surprisingly the Blueshirts got deals done with two of the five players this past week. Anisimov and Sauer each agreed to two-year deals. Anisimov's contract provides for annual salaries of $1.875 million while Sauer will get $1.25 million per year.
With Anisimov and Sauer done, it looks like Brian Boyle is next. Boyle earned $525,000 last year but after surpassing the 20-goal mark this year he's looking at a sizable raise. I wouldn't at all be surprised if he signs on for two more years at a salary around the same $1.25 million Sauer got.
The real questions surround Dubi and Cally. Unlike the others who have limited track records of NHL success, Dubi and Cally have been steady producers for four seasons.Callahan has 76 career goals in 284 career games and has twice potted 20+ goals in a season. Dubi has 71 career markers in 316 career contests and has hit the 20-goal mark in each of the last two campaigns.
Most Rangers followers calculate the contracts for Dubi and Cally to be of similar structure with salaries somewhere from $3.75 million up to $4.5 million annually. That range seems accurate given that two comparable players also eligible for arbitration, Clarke MacArthur and Andrew Ladd just agreed to deals that pay them similarly. MacArthur got two years from Toronto worth a total of $6.5 million ($3.25 million per) after a 62-point campaign with the Leafs. Ladd, the captain of the Thrashers last season, had the best year of his career posting a 29-30-59 scoring line. He signed a five-year extension worth an average of $4.4 million per.
Those numbers seem about right for Dubi and Cally. I wouldn't be surprised to see both players sign something like the five-year deal Ladd signed in Winnipeg. Perhaps Slats can get his guys to take a little less to leave some extra cap space to give the club some flexibility for in-season additions.
Even though three RFA's remain unsigned, there is a calmness around the Rangers organization. We know for certain that Brad Richards will be a Ranger on opening night in Sweden. We also know that all of our RFA's will be in camp and ready to get to work to make next season a success story.