During break-up day this past weekend, 26-year-old forward Brandon Dubinsky sounded optimistic in regard to his future with the New York Rangers and the mutual trust between he, the player, and the organization. Coming off a rough season in which he only scored ten goals in 77 games, Dubinsky may not be as fortunate as he hopes once the offseason really kicks into gear and the front office starts looking to improve the team's offensive core. Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils last Friday just may have been his very last as a member of the Broadway Blueshirts.
It was only last summer when Dubinsky was re-signed to a four-year, $16.8 million deal, but that was after a career year in which he registered 24 goals and 30 assists in equally as many games as he played this season. But should we really be calling that a "career year", or simply just a "contract" year, because the fall-off between the two certainly suggests that there was a little more motivation and urgency in 2010-11 than there was in 2011-12.
Regardless of the cause, Dubinsky did not meet expectations this season, and actually not only did he not meet them, he fell fall short of the bar that was set for him this year. For this very reason he was minutes away from becoming a Columbus Blue Jacket this past Winter just prior to the trading deadline in the NHL. The Rangers, of course, were targeting marquee winger Rick Nash at the time, and every rumor connecting the two clubs included Dubinsky's name in some way.
Not only this, but three years back when GM Glen Sather was doing his best to pry Dany Heatley from the grasp of Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators, Dubinsky was again thrown on the table by New York as possible trade bait to complete a deal. Neither of these proposed trades ever came to fruition, but either way, that's two instances in which Sather was very quick to readily ship Dubi off to another franchise in order to improve the offense of his own.
There's been plenty of talk on this blog and elsewhere on the Internet about how important it is for the Rangers to build a deeper offense over the summer, and this is also something head coach John Tortorella touched on in both of his radio interviews on Wednesday afternoon. The Devils are playing in the Stanley Cup Finals right now because they were the deeper team in their series against the Rangers, therefore they had more stamina and a larger variety of contributions.
While the Rangers franchise made tremendous strides this past season to put themselves ahead of schedule, there still needs to be another step taken before they are considered to be a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup. Their primary goal will be to bring in another big name such as Rick Nash or even Zach Parise up front, and in order to lure in the prey, there's a good chance Dubinsky will be on the trading block as bait or for the sake of clearing up roster/cap space, depending on who the target player is.
Dubinsky's a hard-nosed player loved by the fans here in New York, and that's not something I am looking to take away from him. However, when push comes to shove, he's not going to improve the club's offense as majorly as the players his name placed in a trade package could bring in.
After all, hockey is a business, too. Right?
RANGERS SIGN PROSPECTS FAST, HRIVIK
As you've probably noticed, the Rangers made two minor signings this week, inking prospect forwards Jesper Fast (dropped the 'h' apparently) and Marek Hrivik. I don't see either as contenders for roster spots next season, but Fast is definitely higher up on the chart than Hrivik. Here's more information on Fast and on Hrivik.