The start of the season hasn’t been great for Noah Dobson. The New York Islanders defenseman has three points in ten games, which isn’t too bad, but it’s his play with and away from the puck that has fans a little worried.
So how worried should fans be? Is there a significant cause for concern or can this start to the season be explained or even understood?
Here’s a look.
New York Islanders: How worried should we be with Noah Dobson?
First, we have to define what the problem is exactly. His production is low, but his three points in ten games have him on pace for a 25 point season. That’s not great, but it’s not bad either. So while his production could use a boost that isn’t the problem.
It’s his positional play and decision-making that are suspect lately and the reason for the concern with the young man.
In his own zone, and specifically around the net, Dobson hasn’t been able to assert himself. He hasn’t been able to consistently box out attackers or keep them clear of the net. The 6’4″ nearly 200lbs defender shouldn’t have this issue, but strength still seems to be a concern for him.
Then there’s his decision-making. While he has the ability to make heads-up plays like this pass to Mathew Barzal from deep in the D-zone and connect with the forward in the neutral zone he’s also capable of making some, not some sound plays.
He, along with Zdeno Chara, lead the d-core in giveaways at ten. On Sunday against Minnesota, Dobson’s blind behind-the-back pass lead to a turnover in the D-zone that could have ended up in the back of the net if not for Varlamov.
Keep in mind that sequence occurred on the man-advantage for the Islanders. There was no need to make a risky play like this specifically in his own zone.
That’s where the problem lays with Dobson. The play in the zone and his decision-making. So is that a big concern? Yes and no.
That sounds wishy-washy, but hear me out. First, why it’s an issue: because of the other players around him. With Leddy gone, Dobson needed to (unfairly) step up quickly and take hold of that top-four spot that opened up. Greene and Chara aren’t top-four defenders anymore, so if Dobson couldn’t be one as well that leaves the Isles with only three top-four players.
And even that’s a stretch. Mayfield has his qualities but it’s debatable that he can be a regular top-four player.
With Dobson failing to take that step up so far, it’s weakened the team’s blueline. So that’s why it’s an issue now.
Why it isn’t an issue, is because of his age. We have to remember that Dobson is only 21 years old. He’s still quite young and defensemen take a while to develop into what they’ll eventually be at the NHL level.
If there’s anything that we know about young developing players is that they make mistakes. The Islanders are going to have to learn to live with the mistakes as he “works them out of his system” so to speak. And that’s what we’re going through right now.
So while that won’t likely ease any concerns we should remember that this team’s fortunes shouldn’t be thrust onto one of the youngest players on the team (Wahlstrom is five months younger). That’s neither fair nor right.
Dobson isn’t where he needs to be right now, but he’ll get there. Unfortunately, the Isles blueline will seemingly be weaker until he does.