Rangers Officially Give Up on Brandon Dubinsky

Montreal Canadiens' right wing forward Brian Gionta is upended by New York Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky in the first period at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Canadiens shut out the Rangers 6-0.

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella has all but declared Brandon Dubinsky a wing instead of a center, his natural position.

Dubinsky has played more and more wing, mostly due to his inability to create much offense, either for himself or his line mates, from the middle.

But given the Rangers’ lack of strength down the middle, it’s a bit surprising Tortorella isn’t working to improve Dubinsky as a center rather than just surrendering.

Jaromir Jagr preferred Dubinsky as his center, so there must be some kind of depth to Dubinsky’s game that isn’t readily apparent. Either that, or Jagr felt Dubinsky was the least offensive centering option.

Right now, Tortorella has Dubinsky on a line with center Artem Anisimov and right wing Brandon Prust. This seems like some kind of third line, perhaps a checking unit.

It shows just how far Dubinsky has fallen within the organization. At one time, he was predicted to be a top two center. His defensive game has usually been present, for the most part, he’s struggled to generate offense.

Erik Christensen will probably center the top line. I suspect Tim Kennedy will start out centering the second line and Brian Boyle will center the fourth line.

Once Chris Drury is back from his broken finger, he’ll need to be worked back into the middle, although like Dubinsky, his lack of offensive production has led to his spending stretches of time on the wing.

Once again, the Rangers have a lot of people who can play center, but not enough guys who can play it well.

On the one hand, Tortorella deserves some credit for not pretending Dubinsky is something he isn’t.

On the other, Dubinsky is the only Ranger young enough and talented enough to possibly re-imagine his game. If the Rangers aren’t going to sign a top center, they should at least consider developing their own.

Dubinsky hasn’t shown much, but perhaps he can learn. He just needs the organization to take the time and to show the patience to let him learn to be a top NHL center.

Unfortunately for Dubinsky, the Rangers seem perfectly content to let a player who’s shown flashes of talent and creativity become just another piece of the Rangers’ seemingly endless third line.