BOSTON - Free agent Brandon Dubinsky ended a seven-day holdout Saturday with a sudden and surprising flourish, and signed a two-year, $3.7-million contract with the Rangers.
The agreement with Dubinsky, who earned $638,000 last year, is far closer to the numbers that were sought by the 23-year-old than the Blueshirts. He fills a significant gap at center, but adds another million to the club's payroll. The Rangers reportedly were offering Dubinsky $700,000 for a one-year deal and about $1.8 million for two.
According to people involved in the talks, Dubinsky, who had 13 goals and 28 assists last year, will earn $1.7 million this season and $2 million in 2010-11 for his third and fourth NHL seasons.
"He's a kid who is just reaching his potential to be a 60- or 70-point per year player," said Dubinsky's agent, Kurt Overhardt, who completed the deal with Sather Saturday morning. "We've been saying that the whole time."
After yesterday's 5-2 win over the Bruins, Sather told Newsday that he thought "we'd sign him [Dubinsky] all along . . . We've been negotiating all week. I talked to him this morning. Now the coaches can make some decisions."
In a phone interview with Newsday Saturday, Dubinsky said that Wednesday, he thought the stalemate had lasted long enough and pushed to get something done. "It's probably been the most stressful week in my entire life," said Dubinsky, whose father gave him Rangers jerseys to wear as a youngster. "I've told you guys over and over - and maybe you didn't believe me - that I always wanted to be a Ranger, was proud to be a Ranger and that I want to end my career as a Ranger. We're relieved and excited."
Although he tried not to think about being traded, "you do read that stuff and you just want to get things settled as soon as possible. Now I've got a couple of weeks to get ready," said Dubinsky, who skated last night at the team's practice complex and will join the team on the ice after today off.
Coach John Tortorella, who had earlier called the holdout "stupid," stuck to his guns. "I don't come off my comments prior," he said. "A young guy should be at camp. So it's good that he's getting to camp. I'm not gonna give you a litany of things I'm going to be doing with Dubi. He's gonna be part of the team. Again, as a young man, he should have been in camp."
Teammate Aaron Voros, a friend of Dubinsky, said: "We've had to work hard every day. Now that he's got his pockets filled, he's got a little catching up to do."
Notes & quotes: Artem Anisimov (shorthanded), Ales Kotalik, Sean Avery, Enver Lisin and P.A. Parenteau scored in the team's first win in four preseason games . . . The Rangers trimmed more players from their roster, including G Matt Zaba, G Chad Johnson, C Paul Crowder, Ilkka Heikkinen and D Corey Potter.