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2005-06 Prospect Recap: Brandon Dubinsky

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

C, Portland (WHL)/Hartford (AHL)

Just over two months ago, Rangers Vice President of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager Don Maloney was in Seattle's KeyArena for Game 5 of the Portland Winter Hawks' first-round series against the Thunderbirds.

Maloney was there to see how Portland center Brandon Dubinsky, coming off an MVP season that established him as a top-tier NHL prospect, would perform in a pivotal match of a WHL playoff series tied 2-2.

Not only did Dubinsky step up by willing his team to a 3-2 victory that night, he also recorded a natural hat-trick. His three goals came short-handed, at even strength, and finally on the power play.

Dubinsky's dominance of the WHL started at the outset of the junior league's 2005-06 campaign. The 6-foot, 203-pound center never looked back after recording two goals and two assists to lead Portland to a 6-3 victory against Kelowna in the season-opener on Sept. 24.

He went on to register 21 goals and 46 assists for 67 points, along with 98 penalty minutes, in 51 games. Named the Winter Hawks MVP, he recorded 18 multi-point games, and finished 16th in the WHL in points (67) despite missing 17 games due to a knee injury suffered in a Jan. 7 game against Kamloops.

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Dubinsky also appeared in 12 playoff games for Portland, notching 12 goals and five assists for 15 points, along with 24 penalty minutes. When the Winter Hawks exited the playoffs, he was leading the league in playoff points, and in the final playoff scoring race, he still ranked ninth overall despite playing in the fewest games of anyone in the top 10.

Dubinsky left a major impression in major junior hockey. Voted the "most irritating player" in the WHL's Western Conference for two years running, the colorful center has a knack for getting under his opponents' skin.

"Brandon is the kind of player you don't like to play against," Maloney says. "He is very competitive, very aggressive, and that is what is going to get him to the NHL. He's not only a skilled guy."

But as his gaudy numbers prove, his skill level is truly something special. The Rangers' second round selection, 60th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry draft finished his WHL career with 82 goals and 148 assists for 230 points, along with 430 penalty minutes, in 234 career games.

Dubinsky was a Western Hockey League All-Star in 2005-06 despite missing 17 games with an injury.
"Brandon is a point-producing centerman," Maloney said. "You can never have too many of those."

After Portland was eliminated from the WHL playoffs, Dubinsky signed a professional contract with the Rangers and joined Hartford in the middle of the Wolf Pack's postseason run. In only his third pro game, he netted two goals and two assists in a 7-0 thrashing of Manchester on April 23. If that wasn't enough to prove he belonged, he followed that performance with an equally spectacular two-goal effort the very next night.

Playing in 11 playoff games, Dubinsky ranked third on the Wolf Pack in goals (5) and fourth on the team in points (10).

Always a talented skater with the puck, Brandon took it upon himself to work on his play without it. In 2005, he spent the entire summer training with Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Reg Grant at the Madison Square Garden Training Center.

The WHL Second Team All-Star has plenty of patience in traffic, and according to Maloney, is as skilled as anybody in the organization with the puck.

That's quite a compliment for any 20-year-old hockey player and gives a hint of what Rangers fans can look forward to seeing from Dubinsky in the years to come.

-- Ricky Henne

C Portland (WHL regular season) 51 21 46 67 98 9 1 3
  Portland (WHL playoffs) 12 5 10 15 24 3 1 1
Hartford (AHL playoffs) 11 5 5 10 14 2 0 0
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