There was plenty of criticism of Noah Dobson through the NY Islanders' first three games, but he's played himself into one of the team's top performers through six games.
There's no question that Dobson is the top, if not the only, offensive threat from the blue line for the Isles. With the additional defensive responsibilities handed to Dobson due to the absence of Scott Mayfield, the 23-year-old has been making a splash in all three aspects of the game.
Through six games, Dobson leads the team in points with seven (two goals, five assists), creating for himself and his teammates. His production is currently good enough for seventh best among all NHL defensemen, trailing some of the top offensive-defensemen the game has to offer in Cale Makar, Victor Hedman, Adam Fox, and Evan Bouchard.
Dobson was involved in two goals for the Isles last night against the Ottawa Senators, the first being a power play assist on Bo Horvat's opening goal and the second a 90.4 mph slap shot that beat Joonas Korpisalo for the game-winning goal in the third after jumping into the rush with his forwards.
"He (Dobson) was great," said Horvat following the Isles win over the Senators. "When he gets up in the play like that, he just creates so much offense for us. He's just moving and finding holes and jumping up in the play like that, especially on the last goal. He doesn't get that opportunity if he doesn't move his feet up the ice - so heck of a play by him and Barzy there.
Defensively, Dobson has become more comfortable with his role in the team. Not only has he been breaking up passes with his stick, but he's also finding ways to get into shooting lanes with his body. He ranks fifth in the league in blocked shots for defensemen with 23 - just four behind leader Jacob Trouba.
He certainly has room to continue to improve, but over the last three games, he hasn't been sacrificing defense for offense.
"I think he's just more and more assertive in the defensive zone," said Lane Lambert. "He's gaining that level of confidence where, you know, he feels he's able to separate and create separation of guys from the puck. As a result, he's breaking pucks up clean, and he's confident when he has the puck on his stick."
Though his production last year was similar to the year prior, the Isles are hoping Dobson is ready to take the next step and become one of the league's top offensive-defensemen.