To New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky, his brand new four-year deal is a victory for both him and his team. The way he sees it, neither side had to sacrifice to ensure that Dubinsky stayed with the team that drafted him.
"I didn't take less and they didn't overpay. At the end of the day, the team was happy with the deal and so was I," Dubinsky said by phone Thursday. "It relieves a lot of pressure. I think that was what made it most exciting, knowing that I had a long-term deal to stay in New York and be a part of the Rangers and what we're trying to build."
After avoiding arbitration by signing the deal with the Rangers Wednesday, Dubinsky is excited for what the future holds for both him and the team. The forward led the Rangers in goals, assists and points last season while also setting career-highs in all three categories and helping guide the Rangers to the playoffs.
"I never wanted to be on another team. I wanted to be in New York, where I live, and be a part of the Rangers and the way our team is starting to trend, I want to be a big part of it," Dubinsky said. "I'm really happy with the investment they put into me. By the time the deal is done, I'll be with the organization for 12 years, it's pretty awesome."
As a restricted free agent, Dubinsky chose arbitration and had been scheduled to have his hearing Wednesday in Toronto at 9 a.m. Tuesday night, he was in Toronto with his agents and they had dinner and talked negotiations with Rangers personnel.
The negotiations continued in the morning. The 9 a.m. hearing was put on hold as the two sides tried to work out a deal. Around 10:30 a.m., the sides finally agreed on the deal, which is reported by ESPN.com's Scott Burnside to have a $4.2 million cap hit each season.
The last time Dubinsky had been a free agent in 2009, he staged an eight-day holdout that extended into training camp before negotiating a new deal. While Dubinsky and the Rangers barely avoided arbitration, he said the process this time around was much easier.
"I'm a little bit older and have played a few more years and I think the team knows what they are going to be getting," Dubinsky said. "I think it was easier to make a longer commitment than they did the first time."
The 25-year-old's new deal will make him one of the highest-paid players on the Rangers and Dubinsky said he understands the pressure that will bring, as well as that of being a veteran on the team and an integral part in the Rangers top two lines.
Fresh off signing his deal, Dubinsky worked out at the MSG Training Center Friday afternoon. Dubinsky said he's continuing to work on his foot speed, leg strength and power as well as improving his quickness and speed. He also hopes to improve on shooting the puck. Last season, Dubinsky scored 24 goals and added 30 assists for the Blueshirts.
While Dubinsky primarily played on the Rangers second line last season, he would welcome the chance to join the Rangers first line next season, playing alongside newly-acquired center Brad Richards and forward Marian Gaborik. Dubinsky is also looking forward to having an increased leadership role on the team next season, as he will be one of the longest-tenured players on the team.
"I've been here for a long time and I've gotten to that point that I know what it's like to play here," Dubinsky said. "We have a lot of younger guys so hopefully I can use the experience and let it rub off on them. We have a core here and bringing in guys like Richards and the winning he brings to the table, we're excited for that. I'm definitely seeing myself as a leader with or without a letter on my sweater. Got to be ready to step up and do it."
With Dubinsky now signed, the Rangers can turn their attention to fellow forward Ryan Callahan, who is scheduled to have his arbitration hearing July 28. Dubinsky is hopeful the Rangers will re-up with Callahan, another veteran on the team, as he thinks the team is ready to raise the bar to the next level.
"Obviously a lot is going to ride on the defense, we have a younger defense but I know we have confidence in those guys," Dubinsky said. "If they can step up and continue to improve on the season, take what they learned from the year before, I have no doubt we have a team that can compete with anybody and be a contender."
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.