It wasn’t long ago the NY Islanders faithful and media were getting on Noah Dobson for his slow, mistake-riddled start to the season. Fast-forward two months, and Dobson has become one of the NHL’s top defensemen, whose name is being mentioned as a potential Norris Trophy candidate.
With ⅓ of the NHL season complete, Dobson’s numbers have been right there with the elite defensemen in the game. He currently sits fourth in the league in points among blueliners with 27, trailing only Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, and Evan Bouchard.
While his game essentially all season has been outstanding, his recent run of play has catapulted him into conversation among the elites.
With a record of 5-1-1 over the Islanders' last seven games, Dobson has registered 11 points, tied with Bo Horvat and trailing only Mat Barzal, who has 13 over that span.
Not just doing it offensively, Dobson's game has vastly improved on the defensive end of the ice as well, as his +13 rating has him tied for ninth in the league in that category.
Earning the trust of his head coach, Lane Lambert has turned to Dobson often, no matter the situation. The 23-year-old averages 25:14 per game, leading the Isles and fifth most in the league. He's only played under 20 minutes once this season, being the first game of the season, and likely won't be below that mark for the remainder.
Turning defense into offense has been his forte of late, evidenced by his play in OT against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Face-to-face with two of the game's top offensive talents, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, Dobson was the lone defender in a 2-on-1. Matthews got a shot off, but as the rebound was headed right back to him, Dobson's stick work didn't allow Matthews to field it cleanly, with the puck being sent to the boards. Dobson ultimately retrieved it, sending it up ice to Barzal, who found Horvat on a 2-on-1 of their own for the game-winning goal.
Still just 23 years old, Dobson has one more year on his current contract with a cap hit of $4M. His deal is looking more and more like one of the best bargains in the league for next year but is on his way to commanding a hefty pay raise the following season. The Isles have been searching for a defenseman with this type of offensive talent since Mark Streit, and a pay raise will be well worth it for a young player who is evolving into one of the league's elite defensemen.