Editorials

Islanders: Noah Dobson is ready for a bigger role

By Matt O'Leary
Noah Dobson #8 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Noah Dobson #8 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Noah Dobson is expected to have a more regular role for the Islanders in 2020-2021 and he is absolutely ready for it.

When the New York Islanders traded away Devon Toews, panic ensued from a portion of the fanbase and analytics Twitter. Who is going to run the 24th ranked power play from the blue line they yelled and screamed!

Well, Ryan Pulock and Nick Leddy have and can do it but we also haven’t mentioned the kid, Noah Dobson. Last year, he made his debut for the Isles and played 34 games as the team’s seventh d-man.

In those 34 games, Noah finished with seven points (1 goal, 6 assists). Paced out over a full season, that’s 17 points. Not great but when you consider he was playing just 13:17 on average per game, it starts to add up.

Ironically, Dobson played 18:50 in his NHL debut and picked up an assist along the way. That quickly changed as he played under 12 minutes 14 times after that. Six times in 2019-2020, Dobson played over 16 minutes. When he did, he was fairly productive.

He had three of his seven points in those games, and his lone goal. For the most part, he was fine with the bigger role. He finished with a 0 or positive plus/minus in all but one of those games. He had one really tough go of it in February when the Isles were in a free fall,  he finished with a -3 in 17:03 against Nashville.

Despite the limited sample size, his advanced numbers were pretty solid. He was second on the team in CF% for defensemen and first in xGF% with a 54.40 according to Natural Stat Trick. On the power play, he only played 31:27 which is essentially 55 seconds of power-play time per game.

Dobson had just one power-play point on the year but that should go up next year as well. Even in the small samples, we saw samples of greatness from Dobson. For instance, this assist on Josh Bailey’s game-tying goal:

What an effort from Noah to stick with it along the boards and to have the ability to find the open Bailey in front of the net. As time goes on he’ll continue to get more comfortable pinching and getting involved in the play.

The expectation is for him to be playing with Andy Greene on the third pair, and as we know Greene is a reliable veteran who can stay at home while Dobson goes to work and does his thing offensively.

While he isn’t as fast as Devon Toews, his skating is still fairly solid. He put Giavani Smith in a blender with his stop on a dime back in January:

Next year, I fully expect Dobson to play on a regular basis playing anywhere from 17 minutes to 19 minutes a night. Boychuk’s average time on ice last year was 17:17, so somewhere in that ballpark on pair three seems to make sense for Dobson.

I’d assume he’d be the third power-play option behind Ryan Pulock and Nick Leddy as well. Nobody is asking Noah Dobson to turn into a top-four d-man overnight, that’s unrealistic.

But I think there is a legit chance that we see him take some significant strides to become that player this upcoming season. He’s earned that chance to prove it.

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