As a new season gets set to begin, the New York Islanders will add a fifth homegrown defenseman to their starting lineup with Noah Dobson officially making the NHL club. He will be joining Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech and Devon Toews as players New York has drafted in addition to the pair of acquisitions former general manager Garth Snow made in Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. Dobson will wear No. 8 and likely will debut either this Friday or Sunday as the Islanders open up with a pair of home games.
“The one thing you find from player of his caliber is that the game itself doesn’t overwhelm him,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “He’s got the skillset. He’s got the hockey IQ, the skating and all that.”
Unlike the other four players, Dobson never played for the team’s affiliate in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL. He was drafted 12th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft right behind fellow Islanders prospect Oliver Wahlstrom, and shined in his three seasons in the QMJHL. He played two and a half seasons for the Acadie-Bathurst Titans before he was traded to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies late in the 2018-19 season, leading his team to a second-straight Memorial Cup for his respective team.
During those 20 games in the playoffs, he set a record of 29 points in the playoffs, scoring eight goals and being named the MVP of the QMJHL Playoffs. In his career, he scored 50 goals and registered 194 points in 237 games as a defenseman. He also has played for Canada in the international stage for much of his young career and played in the World Juniors in 2019.
Learning From Leddy
Dobson was invited to training camp last year, but didn’t have much of a shot to make the team out of camp. He did get a much better chance this season especially in the preseason playing alongside Nick Leddy.
“He’s been really good for the young guys like myself,” Dobson said talking about Leddy. “He’s always taking on the ice and when were in a game, I know where he is at. I know where my options are because he is just communicating. Overall, it has been a really good experience so far.”
Dobson had two assists and finished with a plus-four rating in the preseason to earn his shot to start the season in the NHL. He was able to beat out long-time Islander Thomas Hickey for one of the final spots despite not appearing in the last exhibition game.
For most young defenders, it isn’t likely to see them get 20-plus minutes of ice time, but that might not be the case with Dobson. The first few games Barry Trotz will want to manage his minutes, but if he is going to be playing with Leddy, he is going to see the ice a lot especially on the penalty kill. While he has produced offensively in the QMJHL, he won’t likely see much power-play time as both Ryan Pulock, Devon Toews and Nick Leddy have established themselves in those roles.
The Islanders, as well as Dobson, will be tested right out of the gate as they will face Alexander Ovechkin in their home opener Friday night at the Coliseum. One positive is that Trotz will have the last change so he can pick his spots for his 19-year-old. The challenge won’t get much easier as Patrik Laine and Connor McDavid will be other notable forwards he will be seeing in his first week in the NHL, before the Islanders head on the road for the first time.