With a goal and an assist in the New York Islanders 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres last night, Noah Dobson had himself a night. His 3.62 Game Score was bested only by teammate Mathew Barzal who had a 4.11 Game Score. Dobson was easily one of the better players on the ice, for either team last night.
Which is something we've seen more frequently from Noah Dobson lately. Since the Ryan Pulock injury, Dobson has had to step up by not only chewing up more ice time but becoming more of an offensive driver while maintaining his defensive responsibilities.
New York Islanders: Noah Dobson rounding into drafted talent
The way the season started for Dobson who knew if he could do it. His first month of the season wasn't great. He was weak in front of the net, creating unforced errors, and not being effective offensively (at 5on5 or on the PP).
On November 9 I wrote a piece about Dobson that wondered if the Islanders and their fans should be worried about him. The takeaway then was; it's worrying that he isn't showing signs of becoming the player they drafted yet, but he's only 21. This might take more time.
Remember, I wrote that prior to Ryan Pulock being sidelined with injury (Pulock's last game was Nov. 15). So the Islanders still had the luxury of waiting for Dobson to step up. Losing Pulock meant the Isles no longer had that luxury. They couldn't wait for Dobon to "step up".
And he's answered. In the 14 games since Pulock's injury, Dobson has nine points (four goals and five assists), three power-play points, and he's averaging 21:44 of ice time per game.
His underlying numbers also show him taking a step up. Here's the change in Dobson's underlying numbers pre and post-Pulock injury on an individual and per-60 basis (so removing the impact his teammates have and removing ice-time bias):
Pre-Injury: iG/60 0.15, iCF/60 11.34, iHDCF/60 0.00
Post-Injury: iG/60 0.32, iCF/60 13.69, iHDCF/60 1.32
*Thanks to NaturalStatTrick for the data.
Dobson is transforming into that player they drafted 12th overall in 2018, right in front of our eyes here.
Of course, he isn't perfect. He's still got to be stronger in front of the net. And his giveaway numbers are still high. He's got 3.74 giveaways per game since Pulock was injured. But we aren't seeing these giveaways lead to goals against or turn into quality opportunities for opponents.
Do we need to worry about Noah Dobson? No I think not. I know it's only been two months since I initially asked but his play over that two month stretch has proved he can be the player the Islanders thought they could get when they drafted him.