Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Good Sign

If you are a New York Ranger fan seeing that the 4 eligible players filed for arbitration should be seen as a good sign. Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Brandon Dubinsky and Michael Sauer all filed before the 5 PM EDT deadline.

The biggest reason why this should be seen as good news is that it means no other team can present an offer sheet to any of these 4 insuring that unless the Rangers reject the award given to the player(s) that they will be in a Ranger uniform next season.

But there is more to this than just no offer sheets as the Rangers now also have the option to request that the contracts be for 2 years since this was a player's filing. Artem Anisimov is the only player who did not file because he was not eligible for arbitration this year.

If we were Glen Sather what we would do in the case of Callahan and Dubinsky is to offer them 3 year deals that put both players in the Marc Staal cap hit range of 3.95 million a year. To sweeten the pot what we would do is front load as much as possible given that the current CBA will expire after next season.

Given that the Rangers have 9 million in cap space with Redden's salary included they could with little trouble take a 4 million dollar hit for the duo. They get Redden's salary back once training camp begins and his salary is waived which is like having a 6 million dollar savings account.

For the players it is a smarter move to accept such a deal as this might be the last year where front loaded contracts are allowed. It is expected that in the next CBA that the NHL will be looking to do away with as many of the loopholes that this current CBA has in it.

Taking the money now also means if the players have to do another give back or go through another extended lockout that they will have received most of their money in advance. The Rangers from a PR standpoint would rather not see this go to arbitration given the club's claims of building around a homegrown foundation.

With Callahan at the least going to be wearing an "A" on his uniform; it will not look good for the Rangers to trample all over him at any arbitration hearing. Even worse would be how to explain why you have just trashed Callahan in arbitration then named him as the new Ranger captain.

And as much as we like Callahan and Dubinsky; they too have to realize that if they take this to arbitration they could wind up losing. Going to arbitration is a risky business as the kid gloves come off and sometimes serious damage can be done to the relationship between player and team.

According to Article 12.9 section G ii, the two parties are allowed to do the following in terms off evidence:

(A) the overall performance, including official statistics prepared by the League (both offensive and defensive), of the Player in the previous season or seasons;

(B) the number of games played by the Player, his injuries or illnesses during the preceding seasons;

(C) the length of service of the Player in the League and/or with the Club;

(D) the overall contribution of the Player to the competitive success or failure of his Club in the preceding season;

(E) any special qualities of leadership or public appeal not inconsistent with the fulfillment of his responsibilities as a playing member of his team;

(F) the overall performance in the previous season or seasons of any Player(s) who is alleged to be comparable to the party Player whose salary is in dispute; and

(G) The compensation of any Player(s) who is alleged to be comparable to the party Player, provided, however, that in applying this or any of the above subparagraphs, the Salary Arbitrator shall not consider a Player(s) to be comparable to the party Player unless a party to the arbitration has contended that the Player(s) is comparable; nor shall the Salary Arbitrator consider the compensation or performance of a Player(s) unless a party to the arbitration has contended that the Player(s) is comparable.

What is not allowed to be offered as evidence is covered in Article 12.9 iii:

(A) Any SPC the term of which began when the Player party to such SPC was not a Group 2 Player;

(B) Any SPC entered into by an Unrestricted Free Agent, including SPCs signed by Players after the Player's Club has exercised a walk-away right pursuant to Section 12.10;

(C) The SPC of any Player who is not being offered as a comparable Player to the party Player;

(D) Qualifying Offers made by the Club pursuant to Section 10.2(b);

(E) Any prior offers or history of negotiations between the Player and the Club;

(F) Testimonials, videotapes, newspaper columns, press game reports or similar materials;

(G) Any reference to actual or potential walk-away rights;

(H) Any award issued by a Salary Arbitrator as to which a Club exercised its walk-away rights pursuant to Section 12.10;

(I) The financial condition of the Club or the League;

(J) References to a Club's Upper or Lower Limit, or to the Players' Share;

(K) Any salary arbitration award issued in 2005-2006; or

(L) Any reference to any salary or other compensation information in any salary arbitration opinion that took place prior to the execution of this Agreement. If any salary arbitration opinion issued prior to the execution of this Agreement is cited as precedent, all references to any Player's Player Paragraph 1 Salary or other compensation information will be redacted.

In looking at the first part of what is allowed Dubinsky would have an edge when looking at how he has been for the most part healthy and his stats are shown an increase each year while he has been a Ranger.

It also does not hurt his cause that Dubinsky led the team in goals and overall points either. He can make the case that his value is increasing with each year as his production has improved too.

Ryan Callahan was second in goals and overall points but the team leader in power play goals and game winners. If the Rangers try to use missing 22 games against him then Callahan will be able to point out how he had career numbers despite missing so many games.

The Rangers can do more good here by taking care of Dubinsky and Callahan before arbitration. There are so many different ways they can use this to help the team's image about homegrown players; that is just good business to get a deal done as soon as possible.

In the cases of Brian Boyle and Michael Sauer; both players are coming off career years but the Rangers will be able to make a case that both players have not shown their numbers to be consistent over their careers.

We can see the Rangers winding up with the edge in these 2 cases so a good bet would be to expect both players to wind up in the 700-750K range which is still a nice raise. Both are smart players who will understand that they are not going to wind up with doubling their salaries off one good season.

The Front Office Pecking Order

Cameron Hope who has been the Ranger's Assistant General Manager for Hockey Administration has turned in his resignation. Hope's specialty was being the contract specialist for the Rangers as they adjusted to working with a salary cap.

He was also a nice guy to talk with at the drafts and at least to us he will be missed.

It is believed that current Assistant Director for Player Personnel Scott Gorton will be moved into Hope's spot. The question though is in the chain of command for the Rangers; is Gorton moving from Clark's main assistant to now his boss or is Clark seen as an equal to the Assistant GMs?

In either case, the Ranger's front office is a much better place with the addition of Gorton who was an Assistant GM and then the GM for the Boston Bruins. Sather has a good rep as a trader but Gorton has proven himself to be almost a diamond thief when it comes to making trades.

What we would like to see the Rangers do is have Gorton take over the player personnel part of Jim Schoenfeld's duties to allow Schoenfeld to concentrate on running the CT Whale. Schoenfeld's current title looks like this on the Ranger website:

Assistant General Manager, Player Personnel, Assistant Coach and General Manager, Hartford Wolf Pack; Assistant Coach

Maybe it is just us but it is a tad too much to have one guy doing.

The question is now is Glen Sather setting the stage for when he wants to turn over the GM's position to someone and which person would get it. Nothing against Mark Messier who is doing a very good job scouting but when you look at the rest of the Ranger staff then Messier is still a novice.

It is a legit cause for concern that if Messier is elevated to GM over Schoenfeld, Clark or Gorton that the Rangers could lose one or more of this team. Schoenfeld has paid more than his fair share of dues and deserves to be the next Ranger GM.

And since we are talking about Ranger staff while we understand that John Tortorella does not want another coach on the bench but given all the youth on the Ranger blueline, would it not be a good move to hire Brian Leetch as a consultant to work with the defensemen?

He does not have to be on the bench, he already lives in the New York area so why are the Rangers not using Leetch where he can do the most good? No offense Mike Sullivan but if I am a kid defender and I have a Brian Leetch offering me instruction then you know I will be listening to a guy who has not 1 but 2 Norris Trophies.

Leetch is a great guy and he clearly deserves his #2 up in the rafters but on TV, Leetch looks so uncomfortable and almost lost. Why he is not being used to teach the defensemen almost boggles the mind.

We have see the effect that both Mark Messier and Adam Graves have when they visit the prospects so why not put a Ranger legend to work where he can best help the Rangers?  Leetch can work both in New York and Hartford and the Rangers would be that much better for it.

It does not hurt to ask.

(NY Ranger logo courtesy of the New York Rangers)

1 comment:

NCSteve said...

Always astute commentary. I agree that Schoeny and Leetch have their rightful places in the Ranger hierarchy. Messier's presence, while beneficial, would, indeed, upset the pecking order. Still, Sather's longtime relationship with Mess is a huge consideration. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. But I can't see Sather giving away the farm before the Rangers hoist the Cup. AFTER the Cup, then I would imagine Sather would hand over the team to Schoenfeld or Messier. I could even see Schoenfield as coach after Tortorella, but that is a ways off for now.