Brandon Dubinsky, the Anchorage, Alaska native will be the focus of my fourth installment of the weekly series of New York Rangers player profiles. Dubinsky may be in the middle of what could be his breakout season that Rangers fans have been waiting on for some time now. Developing his skills as a power forward at Left Wing, here’s more of what you need to know about Dubinsky.
Weight: 207 lbs
Drafted: Round 2 (60th overall) 2004 by the New York Rangers
NHL Experience: Currently in his 5th (4th full) NHL season
Before the NHL:
Just as Callahan did, the American born Dubinsky decided to hone his skills as a minor in the CHL rather than go the college route. Dubinsky spent his junior hockey days as a Portland Winter Hawk in the WHL where he experienced four successful seasons as a major junior hockey player. Dubinsky’s first season with the Winter Hawks was at the age of 16 and he would play their until working his way onto the Hartford Wolf Pack 4 seasons later. As a Winter Hawk Dubinsky was able to record 82 goals and 148 assists in 234 games. His most successful season with Portland came in 03-04 (his draft season) where he recorded 30 goals and 48 assists in 71 games. Dubinsky also had some playoff success in the WHL where he totaled 11 goals and 19 assists in 31 playoff contests.
After his fourth season in the WHL Dubinsky made the jump to the AHL. Dubinsky enjoyed a successful but short career in the AHL as he wasted no time in making the full time jump to the NHL. Dubinsky played one full season with the Wolf Pack where he was able to add 21 goals and 22 assists in 71 games, during this season (06-07) he earned himself a 6 game stint with the Rangers.
Although Dubinsky has not yet represented the USA in the Olympic games, he has twice represented his country at the Wolrd Championships. Dubinsky has enjoyed incredible success at this tournament recording 6 goals and 7 assists in 10 games in two stints with the team (07-08 / 09-10). In the 09-10 tournament, Dubinsky was awarded with the best faceoff percentage in the entire tournament.
At 24 years old Brandon Dubinsky is being looked at by the Rangers staff and many of his teammates as a veteran of the squad. The way he and Callahan have taken over control of the team, you tend to forget that their still in their mid – 20′s being asked to help lead an original 6 franchise with so much history. A tough task to ask of anyone, Rangers management has put it on the shoulders of a few of their players, Dubinsky being an integral part of this process. In 253 career NHL games with the Rangers, Dubinsky has recorded 57 goals and 82 assists to get himself off to a very solid start in his NHL career.
In his rookie season with the Rangers (07-08) Dubinsky throughout the season earned himself a spot on the top line with Jaromir Jagr when neither Scott Gomez nor Chris Drury seemed to gel with the Rangers best winger. This situation helped propel Dubinsky to a very solid rookie tenure where he was able to provide the Rangers with some good young spark. After the lockout the Rangers have developed a mentality of being competitive while also adding youth into the lineup. Dubinsky’s year to get his shot came in 07-08.
Since his rookie campaign Dubisnky has been a staple in the Rangers lineup. It was even reported that when talks where heating up between the Rangers and Senators in regards to the Rangers trading for Dany Heatly, the Senators were very keen on the Rangers adding Dubinsky to the deal and Sather had decided that he was the deal breaker. So although he may not be so great on the open market, Sather does have a brain when it comes to trading, or not trading.
Before the start of the 09-10 season, Dubinsky experienced some contract troubles with Sather. It is classic Sather to give his Restricted Free-Agents who have no leverage (can’t go to the open market/arbitration) that he will hard ball them. Dubinsky was no different and his holdout lasted into and overlapped with Rangers training camp. You could tell that in his first full season as Rangers head coach Tortorella was a little uneasy with Dubinsky, but Brandon’s play on the ice quickly brought the coach back onto his side. The 09-10 season was Dubinsky’s best, and even though he only played in 69 games he was still able to record 20 gals and 24 assists for 44 points, a career high for the young winger.
Outlook 2010-2011 and Beyond:
After his full transformation from Center to Winger where Tortorella believes Dubinsky’s game is better suited (more north-south, less playmaking responsibilities) Dubinsky’s game has skyrockted. Currently off to one of the fastest starts in the NHL Dubinsky has recorded 10 goals (1 behind the league leading Stamkos) and 4 assists in 14 games. Seemingly a man on a mission every time he steps on the ice, Dubinsky has really progressed from last year to this season in my eyes. He’s not longer slow in his decisions with the puck, he’s getting his shot off quicker and from higher percentage places on the ice. Not to mention that you can’t count out chemistry in any conversation, and Dubinsky’s quick gelling with other Rangers home grown players Anisimov and Callahan, this line is turning out to be a great primary line for the Rangers in Gaborik’s absence.
I believe that a power forwards production in the NHL is hardest to predict in terms of stats, Dubinsky is no exception to this rule. In a game that now favors the bigger, more physical teams, the Rangers have a key piece in developing that kind of mentality with Dubinsky. He’s got the size of a good power forward and the means to use it. Never shying away from contact or getting into the dirty areas of the ice Dubinsky has no problems going deep into the zone to grind a forcheck to possibly draw a penalty, or put one into the back of the net.
When comparing him to Ryan Callahan (since they play a similar game) I think Dubinsky has the better skillset and could find himself a good spot on the top line of an NHL team. He’s certainly done nothing this season to derail that thought as again he is tied for second in the league in goals through this young season.
It was nice to see that with their leading scorer out the Rangers could still rely on a player to be able to get the puck to the net and have it go in. The only question for the remainder of this season becomes how will Dubinsky’s game respond when Gaborik comes back to the lineup. In my opinion, Gaborik coming back will only help Dubinsky grow. With Gaborik’s return comes Dubinsky’s return to the second line where he currently belongs. What also comes along with Gaborik’s return is the opposing teams needing to focus their best defensive efforts on Gaborik. With Gaborik out, these efforts have been forced on Dubinsky and he still has been able to net 10 goals in 14 games.
The drive to succeed is there, and there’s nothing holding Dubinksy back from breaking out.
About the Author
Written by Adam Gavriel