Friday, July 22, 2011

Will Brandon Dubinsky Meet The Higher Expectations More Money Brings?

The wait for Brandon Dubinsky to get his long-term deal with the New York Rangers is now over, but with the new contract and $4.2 million he will earn per season, the raised expectations are just beginning.  Expectations for Dubinsky are nothing new amongst Rangers fans who have expected big things from him since his rookie season when he held his own playing with Jaromir Jagr.  The frustration with Dubinsky not taking the next step, but he did this year, at least for the first half of the season.  Now with the money attached to his name the expectations for Dubinsky will only rise further as he judged not only by point totals in the abstract, but against the dollars he is getting paid.

The key for Dubinsky next year and for the life of this deal will be to find the thing that his plagued him most in his four seasons with the Rangers; consistency.  For the first half last year he was a consistent force nearly every night and was carrying the team offensively, along with Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov, in the absence of Marian Gaborik.  Dubinsky was playing at an All-Star caliber level racking up 17 goals and 21 assists in 47 games. 

Just before the break it was revealed that Dubinsky was playing with a stress fracture in his leg and was shut down for the rest of the first half.  He came back quicker than expected, but never found the same level in his game for the rest of the season.  Over the final 30 games he played his production dipped back to past levels as he scored seven goals and added nine assists in that time span. 

Overall the numbers still look good as he had 24 goals, 30 assists and 54 points, which all led the team, but now that he has the new deal he has to be more consistent during the season and hit that 60-65 point level.  His capability to do so is not in question on the skill side, but now he has to put together the consistent production over the course of an 82 game schedule to see it happen.  If it does, then the Rangers will have gotten a steal in locking up the 25-year-old for $4.2 million a season over the next four years.  If it does not, then the criticism for Dubinsky will grow and questions will rise about whether paying him was the right move for the Rangers. 

Dubinsky is the most outspoken and honest of the Rangers on the roster when it comes to how things are going on a given night, now with his new salary he will have to not only be the one to stand up and be accountable to the reporters for the team’s effort, but to the critics for his own production.  Obviously with players like Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik making more than him and having more expected of them, criticism will fall to them first for team struggles offensively, but that does not mean the fans will not be paying close attention to see if Dubinsky is earning his money as well.

Expectations are rising for Dubinsky with each passing year, and now the expectation will be 60-65 points this season, but luckily for Rangers fans so has his production and expect that trend to continue next season.  I for one expect that with the attention that Richards and Gaborik will command from the opposition this season, all three of Dubinsky, Callahan and Anisimov should have career years offensively as long as they don’t get comfortable with waiting for the big names to produce for them. 

Update: Dubinsky Says He Is Ready For Increased Expectations