Amid an unsubstantiated rumor that New York Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson would be the centerpiece of a deal with the Vancouver Canucks for JT Miller, SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman says that teams "have told me they think it's very possible Noah Dobson has got an extension done. Is it true? I don't know. Is it out of the realm of possibility? No."
"Tom Brady is gonna throw his first touchdown pass of the season next year and the Islanders will be sending out press releases that they just signed a bunch of guys."- Elliott Friedman
Friedman also added that he believes the Islanders are "in" on Nazem Kadri. The NHL insider says that the Islanders and Colorado Avalanche are the favorites, with Calgary and Detroit as potential suitors.
Despite the Vancouver story, which in addition to Dobson, suggested the Islanders include a top prospect and a 2023 first-round pick to acquire the 29-year-old Miller, the expectation is that GM Lou Lamoriello will sign Dobson to a multi-year contract this off-season.
What kind of deal will Dobson sign? That's a different story. A bridge deal at a lower AAV would offer the Islanders salary cap flexibility at a crucial time as they attempt to keep their window for winning a Stanley Cup open with core players around and over 30 years old. A 3-year deal would bring Dobson to age 25, and he would remain a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the contract, similar to Mathew Barzal's current situation.
However, given Dobson's offensive production last season (13G, 38A), a long-term deal with an AAV of $6.5-7M could be viewed as a discount in a few years. It would also ensure that Dobson along with Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock would all be locked up for the next 7-8 years on the Isles blue line.
Earlier this month, Shayna Goldman of The Athletic was on the Nassaumen Hockey Podcast and provided insight into a possible Dobson's extension.
""I like looking at similarity scores based on players within (Dobson's) age range that had similar seasons on both ends of the ice. His top comps after this past season were Seth Jones, Cam Fowler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, Shea Theodore, and (Ryan) Pulock ahead of him. Those are all really encouraging that I think should tell the Islanders this is someone who could be a top pairing defenseman which is why I think going with a bridge deal, which they might do to ease their (salary) cap situation, is a mistake because I think he'll earn that much more on his next contract.""- Shanya Goldman
2021-22 was a major jump in production for Dobson. After struggling and even being a healthy scratch during the season's opening road trip, he stepped up when Pulock was lost for an extended period of time and his game started to click offensively during the second-half.
He doesn't play mistake-free in his own zone, but there was steady improvement and maturity under the tutelage of the coaching staff and Zdeno Chara. Rightfully so, Pelech and Pulock are widely regarded as the Isles' top two defensemen, but they lack the offensive creativity and ability to quarterback the PP that Dobson displayed for a team otherwise lacking that skillset after the trades of Devon Toews and Nick Leddy.
Fairly or not, improving upon last year's performance is where expectations are for Dobson in 2022-23. And while Islanders fans have lofty projections for where Dobson's game is headed, it will take another year or two before the rest of the NHL fully notices. Until then or at least until an extension is announced, we'll have to live with badly conceived trade rumors.