The myth that Columbus can't spend money

Justin K. Aller

With Brandon Dubinsky signing a 6 year deal worth $35 million, it's time for the idea that Columbus can't spend money to build a contender to die.

There's a narrative that Columbus can't or won't (or shouldn't) spend the money necessary to build a contender. That they can't get near the salary cap (which they have on more than one occasion, including last season). That handing out a contract to Brandon Dubinsky, a possible future captain in Columbus, worth $5.85 million a year will hamstring this team after a few seasons. That trading for 32-year-old Scott Hartnell, who's set to make $4.75 million a year on average over the next 5 years, will mean big trouble in a few years when he's suddenly too old to play and will be making way too much money.

The idea is that Columbus can't afford those kinds of contracts. This isn't New York City, or Los Angeles, or Toronto, after all.

So I have to ask -- is Columbus supposed to fill the second and third lines with a cast of players on entry-level contracts? Or do you compete for championships by adding guys who've been there before, like Hartnell? Or retaining Dubinsky, whose most recent resume addition is an absolutely dominate shut-down performance against the world's best hockey player in the playoffs? All while putting up 6 points and a mere 6 penalty minutes in 6 games played?

If that's not the kind of guy you keep, even if you'll maybe possibly be slightly overpaying him, then who do you keep? If Rick Nash's 8-year, $62.4 million contract can be traded after a couple years, if Scott Hartnell's 6-year, $28.5 million contract can be traded after one year, doesn't that say something about what these long-term contracts really mean?

The point is, to win, you have to commit to these kinds of players. You have to prove you want to win, and will put the pieces around them to give them the greatest chance of success. Do you think players will want to sign here during free agency if we're penciling in Jack Skille for a permanent first line spot? Will they waive their no-movement clause for that?

And that goes to retaining your own guys, too. Wouldn't the KHL become a lot more attractive to Bobrovsky next summer if it didn't look like this team could compete? Remember, he walked away from the chance to make twice as much money in his home country, for the chance to compete for a Stanley Cup in Columbus. Think about that.

So, can we all put to rest the narrative that Columbus can't (or shouldn't) commit long-term deals to players like Brandon Dubinsky? Scott Hartnell, in my mind, is a "next level" type player. A player with an extra gear, just like Dubinsky. He's the guy that will continue to light a fire under the rear end of Ryan Johansen, Artem Anisimov, and Cam Atkinson on a daily basis. And players love to be around him, by all accounts. That's the kind of player you need to win a championship.

Rick Nash -- 8 years, $7.8 million/year

Marian Gaborik -- 2 years, $7.5 million/year

Nathan Horton -- 7 years, $5.3 million/year

Scott Hartnell -- 5 years, $4.75 million/year

Brandon Dubinsky -- 6 years, $5.85 million/year

James Wisniewski -- 6 years, $5.5 million/year

Fedor Tyutin -- 6 years, $4.5 million/year

Jack Johnson -- 6 years, $4.357 million/year

Sergei Bobrovsky -- 2 years, $5.625 million/year

These are all deals the team has signed or agreed to take on in trade over the last few years. Let's give the McConnell family and the ownership group some credit. That looks like a team willing to spend money to build a winner. Doesn't it?

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