New York Hockey: RFAs

Rangers must ink RFAs

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
1:56
PM ET
Blueshirts fans with ESPN Insider accounts will be interested in the latest post from Doug McIntyre on ESPN.com today. The Insider blogger chats with Ryan Callahan's agent and explains why the Rangers need to get restricted free agents Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle under contract before they go to arbitration.

The logic is simple, in an arbitration hearing the player's representation will attempt to build him up while the team will attempt to tear him down and limit the awarded salary. If you're the Rangers, that's not exactly something you want to get into if you plan on handing Callahan a 'C' in a few short months.

A second reason is that an arbitration-decided one-year contract will leave Dubinsky and Callahan as unrestricted free agents next season -- where just about every team in the league will want a shot at a couple of high-character wings capable of 20-plus goals and who demonstrate a willingness to lay down in front of a Zdeno Chara slap shot. The Rangers could always pursue extensions during the season, but think of how much more leverage they would wield on the open market.

Based on their stats, you'd have to think Dubinsky and Callahan should come in around the Brooks Laich-like $4.5 million per season range. Of course they could argue for more given their leadership roles and that they've produced their goal totals with significantly less talent around them.

An additional $9M on the books for that tandem, plus another $1M-$1.5M for Boyle leaves the Rangers with more than enough room to round out their roster this season and build onto it in 2012-13 when the contracts of Wojtek Wolski and Sean Avery come off the books.

If the Rangers can't get deals done with these core cast members ... well, then things get complicated.

The arbitration hearings begin July 21 for Dubinsky, with Boyle following on the 25th and Callahan concluding things on the 28th.

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