Brandon Dubinsky was often one of the most commonly debated names on the New York Rangers, at least this season, here on the blog. The fan base is split fifty-fifty on number 17 and whether or not he should be playing as a Broadway Blueshirt in a few months from now or not. He was nearly traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rick Nash just prior to the 2012 trade deadline during the regular season, so there clearly is no hesitation on GM Glen Sather's part to use the 26-year-old forward as trade bait if it means improving the team's offense with a big name. Will that also be the case this summer as the Rangers attempt to pursue another 30-goal scorer to boost their offensive depth? Don't count it out, that's for sure.
The Good: Over the years, Dubinsky has established himself as a fan favorite and for good reason. He is a heart and soul player, much like Ryan Callahan, in that 100-percent just isn't good enough. Although an ugly skater, he's always the first in on the forecheck, likewise going back on the backcheck,and he surely isn't afraid to engage in heavy battles along the boards or fight for his teammates. He's a 'dirty' player as they like to call him, because his game isn't picture-perfect like Marian Gaborik's or Chris Kreider's (that's right, I'm using the rookie as a comparison).
Dubinsky is a reliable player on the penalty-kill and on the defensive side of the puck, so it wasn't a surprise to see him out there in key situations late in games throughout the regular season. John Tortorella can have trust in Dubi at times, but as Brandon has come to find out, that's not always the case by any means.
Lastly, Dubinsky was one of the team's better forwards in the postseason prior to being injured and missing all of round two and part of round three. He had two points in nine games, but it was his effectiveness-per-shift average that made him an impactful player for the Rangers in the series against the Senators (in every game minus the one he was ejected from). As Tortorella always says, the playoffs are where players make names for themselves, so postseason performance is definitely taken into consideration when analyzing an individual.
The Bad: From first on the team in scoring in 2010-11 to eighth on the team in scoring in 2011-12. It's really as simple as that, especially since Dubinsky was handed a contract renewal worth $4.2 million per year last summer. 24 goals and 54 points brought upon a breakout year for Dubinsky; one that left this franchise with extremely high hopes for the Anchorage, Alaska native going into this past season. But unfortunately, for whatever reason, Dubi suffered from a 14-goal drop-off and a 20-point drop-off in a year's span. Was it that he was just playing for a new contract in 2010-11 and not the case this season? Or was it that he could not handle the pressure of having to be a top performer on the team?
Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that Dubinsky nearly fell out of the team's core of players this season, which is not good for his future in New York at all. John Tortorella benched Dubinsky more times than he applauded him, which played a huge part in why Brandon was being put out on the table for Nash in February.
Highlight of the Year:
Overall Assessment: Brandon Dubinsky is a giant question mark for 2012-13 for obvious reasons. He has stated that he believes in himself, as do the Rangers, for next season, but right now he should just be hoping and praying that he still has a roster spot on this team when training camp rolls around in September. And to be honest, it's not likely that he does.
Report Card Grade: C