Thanks to a breakout 51-point performance, Noah Dobson has freshly inked a three-year, $12 million contract with the NY Islanders. Dobson was one of the few bright spots in 2021-22, solidifying himself as a top-4 defenseman and a budding superstar on the Islanders' blue line. Still, the Islanders could have locked Dobson up for longer than three seasons, however, Isles GM Lou Lamoriello states he wants to see a little more out of Dobson before making a long-term commitment:
"Well, certainly there’s always an opportunity to do that. But where we feel Noah is at right now, to make that decision, you know from his group’s point of view, we have to see more with Noah. You know, he has to continue to grow the way he did this year. So we certainly would love to sign any player as long as we can, for the right cap hit, the right price and I think we have to see a little more from Noah to make that long-term decision."- Lou Lamoriello
Dobson scored 13 goals and 38 assists last season. He went from a healthy scratch in November to a never-look-back top-4 defenseman in a matter of months. His 22 power=play points led the team as he took over the PP1 QB role, scoring three goals and 22 points on the man advantage. He really started to hit his stride after scoring an overtime-winning goal against the Edmonton Oilers on New Year's Day.
The good news is there is little doubt that Dobson can continue to develop into the big, mobile top-4 defenseman he's become with a ceiling of a top-pairing blue liner. In Corey Pronman's latest rankings of players and prospects 23 and under, Dobson is listed as the 31st best on a list of 170 players.
No one is questioning Dobson's game with the puck. It's his game without the puck that Lamoriello and even Pronman have stated needs work. That could improve, too, now that he's projected to be paired with Alexander Romanov, a more mobile partner than Zdeno Chara, that also brings a significant physical presence. But, because Dobson has a long reach, he should be able to improve his ability to defend in his own end.
Dobson isn't worried about having only signed a bridge deal, stating he's happy to be on Long Island for the next three years with the ability to continue to develop:
"Back to the second half of the year, I was happy with the steps I took and I think just coming in the offseason just to try to really use the time we’ve had to take another step this year and just excited about the next three years to be able to continue and grow and build off my year last year."- Noah Dosbon
A successful 2022-23 season for Dobson projects to be a similar offensive output to last season while showing improvement defending on his own end of the ice and in the neutral zone. He'll get all the opportunity he needs to continue to show improvement in his game as he was one of the most relied-on defensemen in the second half of the 2021-22 season. There's no reason to suspect that will change in 2022-23 with the belief that Dobson will develop into the Islanders' No.1 defenseman.