NHLer Brandon Dubinsky of Anchorage will join the Alaska Aces full-time, the club announced Monday morning, giving the team three NHL players.
Dubinsky joins Joey Crabb and Nate Thompson, who are likewise from Anchorage and likewise landed with the Aces because of the NHL lockout.
"It's easy to be home, close to family,'' Dubinsky said after the Aces' morning skate. "You don't really get this opportunity too many times, to play in front of your family.''
Dubinsky, who was traded to Columbus by the New York Rangers over the summer, said he had offers to play in Europe -- many NHL players have opted to play there during the lockout -- but nothing that swayed him.
"I just didn't find a situation where I was happier than here,'' he said. "You might lose some dollars and cents, but that pales in comparison to the opportunity to play here.''
Dubinsky on Monday night will center the Aces' top line in an exhibition game against the Las Vegas Wranglers at Sullivan Arena. He will play with Crabb and veteran winger Matt Robinson.
Aces coach Rob Murray said gaining the services of another NHLer -- Dubinsky is a two-time 20-goal scorer in the world's best league -- is a coup.
"It should help us a great deal,'' Murray said.
Dubinsky's addition does raise one issue -- he's a veteran under ECHL rules, as are Crabb and Thompson, and that gives the Aces six veterans. ECHL teams are permitted to play a maximum of four veterans in any game. That means two would have to sit out each game. The other Aces veterans are Robinson, and defensemen Steve Ward and Sean Curry.
"It's a good problem to have,'' Murray said. "I'm not lamenting the fact. You'd be crazy not to be happy. It's like a puzzle right now.''
When the Aces open the regular season Friday in Colorado, deciding which veterans to play will be somewhat mitigated for Murray because Curry likely will remain out with a strained groin. That means Murray will only have to scratch one veteran.
Dubinsky, Crabb and Thompson are following the path NHL center Scott Gomez of Anchorage took during the NHL lockout of 2004-05, when he played for the Aces and was voted the ECHL's Most Valuable Player after leading the league in scoring.
Gomez is skating with the Aces, but he said that's only to stay in shape. Gomez has said repeatedly he does not intend to play for the club this season.
Murray said Mark Guggenberger will start in goal tonight for the Aces. That likely means returner James Reid will start Tuesday's exhibition against the Wranglers.