The year that was…
When he joined the Blue Jackets in 2012-13, Brandon Dubinsky was a player looking for a bigger role and more responsibility than he had in New York.
He was not given anything by coach Todd Richards – he earned his way into a top-six, all situations role with the Blue Jackets that has continued to flourish as he enters season No. 3 in Columbus. Dubinsky, who fought injuries and some bad luck in the lockout-shortened season, managed to put up 20 points in 29 games but knew he had more to give offensively.
And he gave it. Dubinsky’s offensive production (16 goals, 34 assists) was a huge boost to the Blue Jackets in 2013-14, and at one point, they were top-10 in the NHL in goals per game. Their power play improved this past season and Dubinsky also had a role in that, anchoring either of the top two units and routinely paying the price at the net front.
|Click here for Brandon Dubinsky's 2013-14 "season in photos" gallery. |
Then, the playoffs. Dubinsky was tasked with shadowing Sidney Crosby and did a marvelous job while also contributing offensively; Crosby struggled in the Penguins’ first-round series win and Dubinsky scored one of the biggest goals in franchise history, the tying goal in Game 4 with 23 seconds left in regulation.
Recognizing that he’s a cornerstone piece of the franchise moving forward, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen signed Dubinsky to a six-year contract extension through 2021 earlier this summer.
Where is he now?
Not only did Dubinsky offer more offensively this season, he played a key role in the Jackets’ strong possession turnaround from year-to-year. Columbus had the puck more often when Dubinsky was on the ice and good things happened as a result; Dubinsky’s 52.2 Corsi for (CF%) was second only to James Wisniewski’s 54.1%.
And there are no surprises here, but expect Dubinsky to open the season at center on one of the top two lines. He’ll play on the power play, penalty kill and be the go-to guy in the “clutch situations” protecting a lead – and his ability to do those things well makes him one of the Blue Jackets’ most valuable players.
Can Dubinsky go beyond the 50-point mark this year? It’s definitely possible, especially given how the team drives play and generates shot attempts when he’s on the ice. Dubinsky is a big on-ice presence for the Blue Jackets but equally so in the locker room; he’s a respected leader, a veteran player and a member of the Jackets’ leadership group.