Going into the offseason, the New York Islanders have one big contract to work out; Noah Dobson. The right-shot defenseman's entry-level contract expires on July 1. The question isn't "if" the Isles sign him, we know they will, it's for how much and how long?
We know that Lou Lamoriello is a fan of bridge deals after a young player's ELC expires. So it's safe to think that's what's going to happen with Noah Dobson now that he's up for an extension.
Devon Toews was given a two-year bridge deal after his ELC expired. So did Ryan Pulock. Makes sense that Noah Dobson would get the same treatment from the Hall of Fame GM.
A two-year $2-3 million deal seems almost guaranteed at this point. But when you look at Lou Lamoriello's history he's not shy to pay a young d-man when he thinks that young man is worth it. I'm referencing Morgan Reilly's post-ELC contract from Lou's time as GM of the Leafs.
Could New York Islanders hand Noah Dobson a long-term deal?
On April 13, 2016 Lou and Rielly agreed to a six-year contract with a $5 million cap hit.
After three years of NHL hockey where Reilly played 236 games, scored 92 points, and averaged 20:30 of ice-time, Lou was comfortable giving the 22-year-old a six-year contract. At the time Lou stated that the contract was "laying the foundation of the franchise" to Rielly (and Nazem Kadri who was signed at the same time):
"“It was a message to the commitment of both of them,” Lamoriello said. “This is just another step towards where we want to be as far as developing the foundation of our franchise.”"- Lou Lamoriello on signing Rielly
Could Lou pull the same move here? Dobson, in my opinion, is very much part of the foundation of the franchise.
I don't see why not. Sure, Dobson has fewer games with 160 in his NHL career and has scored fewer points with 72 (though his pts/g is better than Rielly's at the same point of their careers). And he's also averaged less ice time than Rielly at 18:16 average TOI per game. So Dobson isn't exactly Rielly, but he clearly showed the Isles that he can be that guy for them.
At 22-years-old, Dobson still has some things to learn, specifically in the D-zone and when it comes to boxing players out in front of the net, but he'll learn those quickly. He'll (hopefully) put on a bit more muscle this summer or at the very least gain some confidence in using that 6'4" 195lbs body of his to move forward away from his net or prevent them from getting there.
A long-term deal like this also gives the Islanders some cost certainty. Locking in Dobson at a $5 million cap for that long allows the Isles to not only breathe a bit now knowing they have their future no.1 guy locked up but it also allows them some space to sign other players later down the line.
Just think about Dobson getting a two-year bridge deal. That means they'll have to pay Dobson in 24-25 to a deal that in likely hood, based on what Dobson's ceiling could be, will be much higher than $5 million. Barzal's new deal will have kicked in by then (he's due in 23-24) and Ilya Sorokin will be owed an extension at the same time as Dobson.
I guess Lou could simply roll the dice and deal with the Dobson signing later down the line, right? So a bridge deal isn't unlikely. But, to answer the original question, could the Islanders sign Noah Dobson to a long-term deal instead of a bridge deal? Yeah, they could very well do that.