Leading up to the New York Islanders game in Tampa, coach Barry Trotz indicated that he was thinking about making “personnel changes” to the lineup. What that meant was anyone guess really. Now on Monday we seemingly know what he meant.
Now, I say “seemingly” because we won’t actually know until puck drop in a few hours, but At the team’s pre-game practice, Dobson was skating with the extras. So it seems that Noah Dobson is out and that Sebastian Aho is in.
New York Islanders Barry Trotz reveals “personnel changes”
Noah Dobson hasn’t exactly been stellar of late. The 12th overall pick in 2018 has struggled out of the gate for the Islanders as they give him more ice-time. He hasn’t exactly been a great puck carrier, he’s had a tough time running the power play*, and hasn’t been particularly effective in the D-zone. Sitting him makes sense all things considering.
(*To be fair no one has looked good on the PP for the Islanders.)
For Aho, he hasn’t played an NHL game since March of 2021. He scored a goal, put two shots on net, and skated for a total of 12:58 against the Flyers that night. He hasn’t featured since. Aho isn’t necessarily a trusted figure for the Islanders.
He’ll get an opportunity tonight to show Barry Trotz he should be trusted to be more than just an extra on the team. That might be a bit tough considering he will, in all likelihood, be playing his off side. With Dobson out and Aho in, the team has four lefties and only two righties (Pulock and Mayfield). Aho, being the last man in, is destined to play on the right side.
While that isn’t the end of the world, it does pose its challenges. Like how he’ll have to receive passes on the backhand when at the top of the offensive blueline. Or how he’ll have a harder time protecting the puck through the neutral zone.
These are just marginal disadvantages but at the NHL level marginal disadvantages matter.
But what seems to be clear is that when Trotz meant “personnel changes” he wasn’t talking about calling up one of Robin Salo or Anatolii Golyshev. Or putting Josh Bailey up in the press box and giving Kieffer Bellows another shot.
He had his eyes set on giving Noah Dobson a push. We’ll see if it works.