The New York Islanders training camp has begun and there are a number of positives to report. On top of the list is the play of Kieffer Bellows and Noah Dobson. What the Isles plan for Bellows and Dobson is one of the most interesting things to watch this pre-season for the blue and orange.
The New York Islanders have to be excited about Kieffer Bellows and Noah Dobson in regards to being part of the team’s future core. The NHL futures for these two youngsters will happen much sooner than later. But what is in store for them this year?
Bellows was the Islanders first-round pick in the 2016 Draft (19th overall). Ironically it was Vegas Golden Knights GM, George McPhee (then part of the Isles front office) who was pushing for Bellows.
Bellows is coming off a monster season in the WHL (41 Goals, 74 Points) but he impressed the most at last years World Junior Championship for Team USA. He led the tournament with nine goals.
Bellows entered training camp knowing it would not be easy to crack the Isles opening night roster. The Isles have a lot of depth at forward. However, that has not stopped
kid in showing that he is just about ready for the NHL show.
The Islanders have a lot of flexibility with Bellows. They simply can have him start the year in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and fine-tune his game. Bellows will be just a phone call away in terms of playing for the big club.
The Islanders brass had to be over the moon when they were on the clock at the 2018 NHL Draft with the 11th and 12th picks. Both Oliver Wahlstrom and Dobson were still on the board and it was a no-brainer who the Isles were going to select at those two spots.
While cracking the Isles blue line isn’t as a tall of a task as breaking into the forward group, Dobson does not have the roster flexibility that Bellows does. Because of that, it’s going to be hard for Dobson to make the opening night roster unless Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz feel they have no other choice but to put him on the roster.
Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Ryan Pulock, Thomas Hickey, and Adam Pelech are locks for the opening night roster. That leaves just two spots open and Dobson finds himself in a battle for those slots with Sebastian Aho, Scott Mayfield, Devon Toews, and Luca Sbisa (on PTO).
Keep in mind Dobson will lose a year off his ELC if he plays in ten NHL regular season games or more.
Lou and Trotz do not want to rush their talented 18-year old defenseman (doesn’t turn 19 until January). But clearly, Dobson has shown that his NHL future will be happening very soon. Even if Dobson plays this season in junior, it is much more likely than not he will be on the Islanders opening night roster come next season (2019-20).
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When it comes to Bellows and Dobson, Lou and Trotz have to consider what’s best for them in the long-term. Also, Lou and Trotz are going to want to see what they have with many of the NHLers currently on the roster and whether or not they will be part of the Isles core for years to come.
Hard to see Dobson or Bellows in the Islanders lineup come opening night (unless injuries happen) but they are sure making it hard for Lou and Trotz not to put them on the roster.