New York Islanders Noah Dobson Immediate Future Must Be NHL

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 21: 2018 NHL Draft top prospect Noah Dobson of Canada talks with the media at Reunion Tower ahead of the NHL Draft on June 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 21: 2018 NHL Draft top prospect Noah Dobson of Canada talks with the media at Reunion Tower ahead of the NHL Draft on June 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

New York Islanders 12th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft Noah Dobson has just won his second Memorial Cup in two years. What’s next for the promising blueliner?

With a 4-2 comeback victory, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies won the 2019 Memorial Cup and with it, New York Islanders prospect Noah Dobson won his second trophy in two years. With two different teams mind you.

That’s something that hasn’t been done since Robert Savard did it in 1982. He won it with the Cornwall Royals in 1981 and then the Kitchener Rangers in 1982.

Now that Dobson’s season is over, the question is: “What’s next”? He’s clearly outgrown the CHL. What are the options the Islanders can take? He’s too young for the AHL, so the NHL must be the next step.

(Note: I previously wrote that the AHL had to be Dobson’s next destination. That is incorrect. I believed the age for AHL participation for players drafted by NHL teams from the CHL was 19 when in fact it’s 20.)

What’s Next

Can Dobson make the jump to the NHL immediately? We know he’s skilled. We know he has poise. Just watch how quickly he turns a pressure situation into a scoring opportunity with the blink of an eye.

The kid’s talented. But unfortunately for him, there are two reasons that could keep him out of the NHL next season.

The first is how Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello likes prospects to develop before calling them up. He’s often quoted saying it’s better to call players up later rather than early.

The second issue is that the New York Islanders are set on the right side of the defense. Ryan Pulock is Barry Trotz number one defender for years to come. Scott Mayfield took a big step forward this season. And Johnny Boychuk, while 36, is still that veteran leader teams love to have.

Johnny Boychuk also has three years left with a $6 million AAV on his deal with a modified no-trade clause*. I wouldn’t bank on him being moved, but it’s not impossible.

(*the clause is Boychuk can name eight teams he can be traded to.)

With all that being said, it’s clear that Noah Dobson has outgrown the CHL. But if Dobson can’t make the NHL it’s not like his consolation prize is the AHL. The NHL and CHL have an agreement that says players drafted from CHL teams can’t play for a professional minor league (like the AHL and ECHL) until they turn 20.

Meaning that if Dobson can’t play in the NHL this season he’ll have to return to junior. That doesn’t seem like a wise option. What more can Noah Dobson learn from the CHL? How to be even more dominant, I guess?

To be fair, Mathew Barzal famously went back to the CHL for a fourth year. He made his NHL debut for the New York Islanders with a two-game stint in 2016-17. But after the famous “playing-the-puck-in-the-box” incident it was clear he just wasn’t ready. So back he went.

Before shipping Dobson out to the CHL, the New York Islanders should give him that ten-game try out at the start of the 2019-20 season. If it means scratching someone like Scott Mayfield for a few games so be it.

The Islanders need to see what this kid can do not just in training camp, but in a competitive setting before sending him back to juniors.

Ideally, the New York Islanders won’t have to give him a tryout. They’ll make room to have him on the roster on opening night. This kid is ready. He might make mistakes at the start of the season, but he’ll learn quickly.

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The NHL should be Noah Dobson’s next destination. He’ll have a few hurdles to pass in order to get there, but he should clear them quite easily.