Since the moment Brandon Dubinsky skated as a rookie with Jaromir Jagr (and before that) hopes and expectations have followed him. Certain player’s progressions are directly linked with their club’s futures and Dubinsky is one such player. With the problems at centre that have plagued the Rangers (for several seasons) Dubinsky was/perhaps still is expected to be an answer. With Tortorella seeing his future at Left wing however Dubinsky’s future is uncertain, especially as many Rangers fans are unsatisfied with the Alaskan’s play/development thus far. Failure to develop as hoped? Lets see.
From an offensive point of view I often see Dubinsky in the same realm as Travis Zajac. Both are around 24, and both enjoyed solid yet unspectacular starts to their NHL careers. Their paths are similar; Zajac began with seasons of 42 and 34 points and 17 and 14 goals. Dubinsky began with 40 and 41 points and 14 and 13 goals.
It was in his third season that Zajac took off. In 08/09 Zajac hit 20 goals for the first time and reached 62 points while being excellent both ends of the ice. Dubi’s third year lagged behind slightly and he ended it with the same 20 goals but 44 points. However with frustration aired by Rangers fans I say be careful what you wish for. Dubi’s stats may not have taken the same leap, and his play was streaky however consider the fact the Alaskan has shown glimpses of clutch. Of his 47 career goals 12 are game winners. 25% is a mighty impressive figure. Throw into the mix that this year Dubi missed 13 games and has been lumbered on a low scoring team and his year could (would?) have projected to over 50 points easily.
Dubinsky is a rarity in the NY franchise. He has a nice blend of size and skill, is willing to use both and is a young player with room to develop. Whether his future lies at center or wing, that’s for the coaches to decide, but the fans need to accept what we have is something a lot of teams would like. Consistency didn’t come to players like Zajac until years 3 and 4, while Jeff Carter also didn’t hit the heady heights until he burst out in year 4 and (no offence Aaron) they didn’t have to play stretches with offensively limited line mates such as Aaron Voros. You want development? a +9 rating on a low scoring, non playoff team is not bad at all. His shooting percentage in the past 2 years has gone from 8.9% to 12%. Yes Dubi needs to show more consistency but then so does Tortorella with his line combinations, no?
For one more year Dubinsky is a cap bargain. He is also a player the Rangers should build around. If he only ‘maxes out’ as a 50-55 point player that’s not a bad core part, a second line staple. Is it? Be careful what you wish for Rangers fans. You want home grown? This is home grown. Traded away, he may just get replaced by a player like Ales Kotalik……..