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Islanders Noah Dobson ice-time is low but developing well

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 30: Noah Dobson #8 of the New York Islanders tries to keep the puck from Joel Farabee #86 of the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period at Wells Fargo Center on January 30, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 30: Noah Dobson #8 of the New York Islanders tries to keep the puck from Joel Farabee #86 of the Philadelphia Flyers in the first period at Wells Fargo Center on January 30, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
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This Noah Dobson‘s first full NHL season for the New York Islanders. His 34 games from 19-20 were primarily due to circumstance after Adam Pelech was sidelined with a season-ending Achilles injury.

Now with Devon Toews traded for picks and cap space and with Johnny Boychuk hanging up his skates, Dobson has a full-time place on the team.

Through eleven games so far in this young season, Dobson has a goal and six points. That’s a pace of 31 points over 56 games or 45 points over an 82 game season. That would be an incredible return and he’s still got another level or two before reaching his ceiling.

New York Islander Noah Dobson still has another gear to hit

Let me just put his scoring rate into perspective. Assuming Dobson paces out the remainder of the season and hits 31 points he’d have the fourth-highest single-season production for an Isles defenseman over the last ten years.

The others to hit 45 points or more (or on pace for 45 points or more) in a season were Nick Leddy in 2016-17 (46 points in 81 games) and Mark Streit who did it twice. The first time was in 2011-12 where he scored 47 points in 82 games and then in 2012-13 when he scored 27 points in 48 games (a pace of 46 points).

And Noah Dobson isn’t seeing much ice time.

Over the last three games, Dobson’s 5on5 time has steadily fallen with less than 13 minutes of 5on5 time. Here’s how Dobson’s 5on5 time compares to the other five blueliners on the team. (Dobson’s line is the think orange one.)

I don’t want this to be misconstrued as a complaint on the amount of ice time he’s getting. Dobson’s ice time will come. But consider that with such little 5on5 time this season he’s still on pace to put up 45 points (over a full season).

Sure, he’s being sheltered. Dobson’s ice-time isn’t against top-tier opponents like what Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock routinely see. But that’s all part of the Barry Trotz confidence management game.

And that game works. Trotz has been able to consistently develop top-end defensemen in the NHL. From guys like Shea Weber, Roman Josi, and Ryan Ellis in Nashville to guys like John Carlson* in Washington.

(*Carlson had played four NHL seasons before Trotz arrived, but Carlson jumped from a 37 point guy to a 55+ point player under Trotz.)

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Dobson’s production in sheltered minutes is great, and he only just turned 21 a month ago. He’s nowhere near his ceiling just yet.

Trotz knows when players are ready to take on more responsibility (specifically on the blueline). When Dobson’s time comes (certainly next season) we’ll see the 12th overall pick from 2018 hit yet another gear when he does.

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