Beginning with the 2022-23 season, Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, and Charlie McAvoy all signed long-term contracts worth $9.5M, while Darnell Nurse signed long-term for $9.25M. McAvoy, Werenski, and Jones are all considered stars in the NHL, while Nurse- while overpaid- has been a mainstay on the Oilers blueline.
McAvoy has two top-five Norris finishes, and Jones has one fourth-place finish. Werenski has also never finished higher than eighth in the voting. Nurse, surprisingly, has a seventh-place finish. To reiterate, Dobson appears likely to finish in the top five this year, although we need to see how the season plays out to be sure.
Dobson is going to get paid- that much is certain. While Dobson can talk about Dahlin, it's likely that his next contract falls below $11M AAV, which is reserved for true franchise players. Fair or not, Dahlin is perceived as a franchise defenseman, whereas Dobson has not quite reached that level of acclaim.
But seeing how Fox, McAvoy, Werenski, Jones, and Nurse all signed for between $9.25M and $9.5M, that seems to be the sweet spot for Dobson.
Are the Islanders prepared to offer Dobson an eight-year contract worth between $76M and $80M this offseason? They should probably prepare themselves to do so, as that's going to be the likely cost of an extension. Otherwise, Dobson can play out this contract, accept his qualifying offer for 2025-2026, and walk himself directly to UFA on July 1, 2026- the worst outcome for the Islanders. At that point, does a trade as soon as this summer become a possibility? While that is not something for the Isles to panic about, it is something to consider before next summer.
Fortunately, with the salary cap expected to increase and other contracts expiring over the next few seasons, the Islanders should be able to extend Dobson. With Dobson, Barzal, Sorokin, Horvat, Pelech, and Pulock locked up long-term, the Islanders would have a solid core to build around moving forward.