The World Junior Championship will start in just under two weeks from now. Should the New York Islanders allow defenseman Noah Dobson to play? Yes.
The Islanders are under no obligation to send Dobson of course and Lou Lamoriello has been cagey about his plan with the former 12th overall pick from 2018.
Dobson has hit the ice for nine of the Islanders 30 games this season and averaged 13:44 of ice-time. The Islanders aren’t exactly using him a lot. Dobson could use a run out with Team Canada at the premier junior tournament. The Islanders should absolutely let him go.
First, Team Canada has to request a loan from the Islanders for Dobson. If Canada doesn’t want him then there’s no story here.
Second, Nick Leddy has to be healthy. Dobson is the Islanders seventh defender on the depth chart so when one of the top six is out, Dobson goes in. At the moment Nick Leddy isn’t fit enough to play, which is why Dobson has played in back to back games.
If Leddy is 100 percent healthy, and he isn’t far off, the decision to loan Dobson out for a few weeks should be an easy one. The Islanders can call up Sebastian Aho from the AHL to be that seventh man in Dobson’s absence.
Assuming Canada makes the request for Dobson’s services and that Nick Leddy is healthy again. Then Dobson has to go.
According to Barry Trotz, the Islanders are limiting Dobson’s playing time in order to strategically build his confidence. Speaking with The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (subscription required), Trotz talked about how rushing a young guy into the NHL can ruin his confidence.
Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz want to slowly, and surely, build Dobson’s confidence up so he can be the player they know he can be.
A premier tournament where a gold medal is a real possibility can be huge for Dobson’s confidence. Not to mention the fact that Dobson has unfinished business with the world juniors.
Just last year, he had the quarter-final game on his stick in overtime. Only for that stick to shatter in two pieces and for Finland to rush up the other way and score the winner (and eventually win the gold medal).
Suiting up for Team Canada, where Dobson will likely be their number one blueliner on the right side and playing big minutes next to some of the top young talent Canada has to offer would be a big boost for Dobson’s confidence and overall development.
The Islanders have until December 19 to decide if they’ll let Dobson go. That’s when there’s a holiday roster freeze in the NHL. We probably won’t hear what the Isles plan on doing until then.