Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Rangers are America's team says Team USA's third jersey.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vinnie Prospal and Brandon Dubinsky

And so, the plot thickens. As it becomes clearer and clearer that the Rangers and Dubinsky are not going to come together on a multi-year contract, the Rangers have signed one Vaclav "Vinnie" Prospal. Yeah, that happened. Prospal was on Torts's Lightning for a while (though not the year they won the Cup), and a few weeks ago, the Lightning bought out the remainder of his contract with them, making him an unrestricted free agent. We signed him to 1 year for $1.1 million. Prospal is 34 and his best years are almost certainly behind him. He has played wing most of his career, but would likely center for us.

So, yeah, we signed another past-his-prime vet. But: we only spent $1.1 million on him. And it seems to me like this is more of an "insurance" signing. The season is getting closer and closer and no one seems to be interested in writing Dubinsky an offer sheet. This means that, despite his and the club's best efforts to somehow fuck things up, he will be a Ranger next season. He will be eligible for arbitration at the conclusion of the season, and so he and the Rangers will likely put together a Callahan-sized deal at that point. So why is everyone fussed over the money right now? I'm not thinking Dubi can't survive on $698,500 a year.

More likely Torts wanted someone around to fill the first-line center role if it turns out Dubi can't hack it. I know we're all up on our "stop signing old men and bring up the youth" soap boxes, and we're pretty much right, but remember that the only time we've ever really seen Dubi thrive as a first-line center was with Jaromir Goddammit Jagr on his wing, so we don't know whether or not he can take on a leadership role. You know I want to see him as our first line center, but it's good to have Prospal as a backup.

And, in the likely scenario that Dubinsky does come through as our top center, we have another decent forward who Torts knows how to work with. Dubi - Drury - Prospal sounds like a decent top 3 centers, while Anisimov spends another year getting better at hockey, for example.

The point is: assuming Dubinsky doesn't get an offer sheet, we're keeping him at under $700,000 this season. So what's the harm in also throwing $1.1m at Prospal for the season and seeing what happens? If Dubi somehow does get an offer sheet, we'll worry about it then.

The Captain Returns

Guess who just got hired as a special assistant to Glen Sather! Mark the fuck Messier, that's who! Some of us have been clamoring for Messier to take over for Sather for years. Now, granted, that's not necessarily smart. Messier may know absolutely nothing about running an organization. But we do know he's very good at hockey, and we do know he's the likeliest successor, and we do know Sather pisses us off all the time. It's basically the "Vote Kerry" argument.

As Brooks says, this is no reason to assume that Messier will be Sather's successor, and that by the time Brashear and Redden's contracts expire, I'll be clumsily inventing a term that combines "General Manager" and "Captain" in one awkward phrasing. But Brooks kinda also has to say that, because everyone else is already saying "See? Messier's gonna be the GM!" Plus, it's nice to think about having Messier and Graves together in the system now, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rumors, etc

There had been some rumors going around that Francis Bouillon, some 33-year-old "scrappy" defenseman, was going to be signing with us to add yet more depth to our somehow already full squad of players competing to make it into our defensive lineup. According to Steve Zipay, there's not actually any kind of deal in the works.

Zherdev is leaving the NHL entirely, signing with Salavat Yuleaf Ufa of the KHL. Unless he completely isn't, because his first wish is to stay in the NHL. More as this story develops. You know, as if we care about it. I don't know why I'm enjoying this so much - I really do like Nik Zherdev. But something about his agent saying the only reason he'd go to the KHL is because NHL teams can't afford him at this point...I dunno, it tickles me.

Everyone knows Old Men love the Rangers. And who can blame them? Prior to the lockout, all the Rangers did since winning the Cup was love them some Old Men. Then, since the lockout, the Rangers built a team around old men Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan. Granted, this was a very good call, as those two were not Old Men, but still: we have something of an Old Man reputation. Hence, when an Old Man searches for a new NHL team, there is always a rumor that he's coming to us. That's why we talk about offhand comments like Roenick claiming Chelios wants to come to New York. It's also why people think this guy could come be an Old Man for us for the second time.

Word is Blair Betts and the Edmonton Oilers are interested in each other, only the latter can't afford the former. Hey, you know who can?

No word yet on Dubinsky. No news at all. Complete silence. What are we waiting for?

We end with comedy. I got an e-mail from my father today. Subject line: "Pessimistic?" The body was a screenshot of the Rangers On Demand video player, airing an interview with the headline "Video: Voros Looks Ahead to September" (byline: "Voros Looks Ahead to Competitive Camp"). My father had written only "Not October?...."

Monday, August 10, 2009

I know I shouldn't post this

I know I shouldn't draw more traffic to another dumbass fan list. I know it's meaningless. I know it's bullshit. I know it's completely irresponsible of me to send you to yet another fucking countdown that impossibly compresses countless statistics, nuances, and "feelings" into one overarching, meaningless "bestness" statistic and attempts to rank the entire planet numerically based on it. I mean, really, Adam Gretz of goddamnit AoL's Fanhouse? The Sedin twins are so identically good at hockey that they tied for a rank of exactly #21? Really, I do know this is bullshit bullshit on a bullshit wagon in a bullshit caravan on its way from Bullshitton to Bullshitville, making a night's stop in Bullshitburgh. I really do know this. But, I'd be lying if I claimed not to get a small kick out of #s 11 and 10 on this one.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dubinsky and Offer Sheets (and an old Devil)

The original title of this post read "(and an old flame)" but then I remembered that the Flames were an actual hockey team, so you would probably think I meant them, and not that I was trying to colorfully refer to the Devils.

Anyway, Brendan Shanahan has received an invitation to at least 82 more Bump-a-Marty Parties, if he can make the lineup. He re-signed with New Jersey. Blah blah blah old man jokes. I still like and respect him, despite his latest choice of uniform. And I only wanted him back insofar as he'd play 4th line left wing. I hope he loses every game this season, but it's nothing personal.

Moving on: let's have a little chat about Brandon Dubinsky. Like you, I am starting to get worried about how he's all not-on-our-team-yet and such. I learned from Michael Obernauer today that Dubinsky rejected his qualifying offer ($638,000) from us. Before you panic, in no way does this mean that he is not a Ranger. He is, in fact, still a restricted free agent for the Rangers. Today, let's take a dive into exactly what it does mean.

First of all, I referred to Dubi rejecting our "qualifying offer," so let's make sure we're on the same page about that. When we spoke a while ago about free agency, we covered the differences between restricted and unrestricted free agency. A restricted free agent, I told you, is not free to sign with any team he chooses unless he is passed on by his current team. We saw this happen most recently with Nikolai Zherdev. Now, obviously, Zherdev filed for arbitration, which is a process you understand pretty well now. But not all RFAs qualify for arbitration, and many that do don't file for it. There must be some kind of regulation surrounding the contract offers to these players. After all, you can't have every NHL team offering the league minimum contract to every one of their RFAs and forcing them to accept.

That's why we have the term "qualifying offers." A qualifying offer is the minimum offer an NHL team is required to make an RFA. The team can exceed this offer (as in, again, Zherdev's case, when we offered him $3.25 million), but cannot go below it. The amount of the qualifying offer is based on the player's previous salary, in a sliding scale. If you care about the details:
-If the player made between the NHL minimum $500,000 and $660,000 last season, the qualifying offer must be 110% of that last season's salary.
-If the player made between from $660,000 to $1 million last season, the qualifying offer must be 105% of that last season's salary.
-If the player made over $1 million season, the qualifying offer must be that last season's salary.

So a qualifying offer is an offer made to an RFA that "qualifies" as a valid offer, using the above criteria. This is what we mean when we say "we qualified Zherdev at $3.25 million." A team can choose not to extend a offer to a RFA, in which case that player becomes unrestricted (can sign any contract with anyone). Here's the part I really didn't get into, though: even if a team qualifies an RFA, that player can still reject the offer. If he does so, his free agency status does not change: he is still an RFA for that team, he just hasn't accepted the offer. This is what Dubinsky has done.

Yes, you, in the back?

"Wait, then what happens next? He's still restricted, but he doesn't want his team's offer. Isn't this a stalemate?"

Excellent question. Glad to see you're paying attention. 5 points to Ravenclaw. Dubinsky has rejected the Rangers' offer of $638,000 (the necessary 110% of last year's $580,000), and so he remains an RFA for the Rangers. Now what? Sure, the Rangers could offer him more, but what's their incentive, if his hands are tied anyway?

Enter the "offer sheet." Yes, the quotes mean it will be on the vocab quiz. An offer sheet is an offer made to an RFA by a team that is not his. Yes, this can happen. Here's the deal: if the Rangers offer to qualify Dubinsky, and he doesn't accept, another team can offer him a contract. Because he's restricted to the Rangers, he can't just accept the contract, but he can sign that he's interested. If he does so, the Rangers then have the chance to offer Dubinsky an identical contract themselves. They can no longer negotiate a new contract, they either have to offer him exactly the terms of the offer sheet or not. If they do, he's obligated to take it over the other team's. If they don't, Dubinsky must sign the other team's contract.

At that point, there are two more minor caveats:
1. The new team can't trade Dubinsky for at least a year.
2. The Rangers are compensated for the signing by draft picks from Dubinsky's new team (some quantity calculated by some formula based on Dubinsky's new salary, ranging from no compensation if Dubinsky makes $994,434 or less to 4 first-round picks if he makes $7,533,585 or more).

So, what's the practical upshot here? Offer sheets are fairly rare: apparently only 32 have been presented since 1986 (presumably when the practice came about) of which one was dropped and another invalidated, and only 5 have been presented since February of 1998 (of which only 1 wasn't matched by the original team). Generally speaking, a player is probably trying to get a little more money out of his deal, and Dubinsky is likely no exception.

If the Rangers think Dubinksy might reasonably receive an offer sheet, they will probably up his qualifying offer fairly soon. If not, they will either offer him a little bit more as an indicator of confidence or just wait and see. Regardless, it seems unlikely that he will receive a multi-million dollar offer sheet from anyone, and it seems unlikely that the Rangers won't match an offer that comes in a few hundred thousand dollars higher than their qualifier. So, essentially, I imagine Dubinsky will still end up a Ranger. He and his employer are just gonna go through some interesting contract negotiation hoops first.

And yes, I'd like to see this come to an end as soon as possible, too. I'm just saying Dubinsky in Blue is still the likeliest outcome here.

Let's leave you with some phun phacts about offer sheets!
--No Rangers RFA has ever received an offer sheet from another team in offer sheet history.
--The Rangers have only ever presented 4 offer sheets in offer sheet history.
--Most recently, the Rangers offered Colorado Avalancher Joe Sakic $21 million for 3 years. The Avs matched it.
--Only once in offer sheet history have the Rangers presented an offer sheet that was not matched by the RFA's original team. On September 3, 1991, the New York Rangers gave the Edmonton Oilers Troy Mallette in exchange for the right to sign a 5 year, $2.44 million contract...with Adam Graves.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Aaaand there it is

Hey, guess what! We decided not to accept the offer, and Zherdev is a real unrestricted free agent! It's all official-like now!

To borrow a parlance from my youth, fucking....duh.

Maybe now we can offer Brandon Dubinsky a goddammit contract?

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Word is he asked for $4.5 million, the Rangers offered $3.25 million, and the arbitrator awarded $3.9 million. We'll see what the Rangers do.