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For Noah Dobson, Who Works Better Alongside him on Isles Blue Line?

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Noah Dobson

With Zdeno Chara rejoining the New York Islanders this past Saturday, general manager Lou Lamoriello filled the last remaining hole on his roster with training camp quickly approaching. While the Islanders’ top defensive pairing is set in stone, plenty of questions remain the bottom-four.

Although each player on the backend will have to play a critical part in what will be a grind of an 82-game season, the continued development of Noah Dobson has to be a focal point as he enters his third season in the National Hockey League.

Which linemate would allow him the best chance at taking that much-needed next step?

Isles Alum Dave Scatchard Recalls Zdeno Chara’s Wild Shot During Time on LI

The Case for Keeping Noah Dobson and Andy Greene Together

Dobson broke into the NHL in 2019-20, alongside veteran and 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk, who was still a serviceable defenseman, did not have the legs to provide as much support as Dobson needed in his first year of NHL action.

After a rough West Coast road trip for Dobson and the Islanders later in the 2019 season, Lamoriello acquired Andy Greene from New Jersey to provide more stability. After Boychuk went down with an injury in the postseason, Greene stepped in alongside the youngster.

The two have played alongside one another ever since.

Last season, Dobson averaged over three more minutes of ice time than he did in his rookie year (16:24) and had become much more trustworthy in his own zone. Alongside Greene, Dobson saw his numbers improve. He put his body in front of opposing shots at a higher rate (1.3 blocks per game), laid the body more (0.9 hits per game), used his hockey IQ to read opposing plays (0.3 takeaways per game) while also being more responsible with the puck when it was on his stick (0.5 giveaways per game).

His more decisive play gave Barry Trotz the confidence to add him to the top power-play unit and there was a noticeable boost in Dobson’s confidence.

With Greene by his side, Dobson was able to take risks because there was trust in Greene to get back and use his skating ability and defensive zone presence to stop the opposition. Although Greene will be 39 in October, Dobson took significant strides alongside him.

-Stefen Rosner 

The Case for Dobson to Play Alongside Chara

The addition of Chara gives the Islanders another veteran presence on the blue line and as solid a player as any for Noah Dobson to learn from. The third-year defenseman has earned the trust from the coaching staff and played well alongside Andy Greene without question, which means he’d likely have the same success with Chara.

The question surrounding who to pair Dobson with is more of a question of what gives the Islanders the best possible defensive unit. And what pairings won’t put Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin in positions where they have to consistently bail out the players in front of them.

Keeping Greene and Dobson together would mean that the Islanders would likely then have Chara and Mayfield paired together.

Mayfield did have a significantly stronger playoff performance than he did in the regular season, but the pairing of Chara and Mayfield would be a defensive unit that would lack the speed that could cost the Islanders against flashy opponents. It would also behoove Dobson to get comfortable with another defensive partner in Chara as the Islanders likely look to manage the minutes of the 44-year-old future Hall-of-Famer and Greene as the season progresses.

Erik Gustafsson will also be at training camp this week on a PTO and could likely get scooped up on a short-term deal for the year to be an extra left-handed defenseman on Long Island.

Noah Dobson has proven he can play with just about anyone on the Islanders’ blue line, so it’s no longer a necessity to keep him anchored to Greene for his development.

-Christian Arnold 

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