The NHL revealed the first 32 players named to his year's NHL All-Star game in Toronto, with Mathew Barzal as the representative for the NY Islanders. The announcement came as a bit of a shock as many expected that Noah Dobson would get the nod after his breakout season.
This isn’t to say Barzal isn’t deserving of the accolade, as he’s leading the Isles in points with 39, having his best season since his Calder Trophy-winning rookie campaign.
The fans will decide the final eight skaters to represent the Eastern Conference, with voting open on X, NHL.com, and the NHL App, through January 11. Aside from Dobson, there are cases to be made for Bo Horvat and Brock Nelson to join the festivities north of the border. Here are arguments for each:
The 23-year-old native of Prince Edward Island is having a breakout year in his fifth NHL season. Through 37 games, Dobson has recorded 36 points (6 goals, 30 assists) with a +16 rating. His offensive production is right up there with some of the league's top offensive-minded defensemen, trailing only Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, and Victor Herman in points.
It’s been decades since the Islanders had a defenseman who could run the offense from the point, and it appears they have found their guy for the distant future. Putting up some ridiculous numbers in the assist column, Dobson is the first Islanders defenseman to reach 30 assists in 37 games since Denis Potvin did so multiple times throughout the 70s and 80s.
Dobson's development over the first three months of the season has allowed Lane Lambert to deploy the defenseman in every situation. With his growth and injuries to the Islanders' blue liners, Dobson has been called on more than nearly any other defenseman in the league. Averaging 25:53 of ice time per game, he trails Drew Doughty by only three seconds for the league lead.