The biggest story of the New York Islanders 2021-22 season has been the growth of 22-year old defenseman Noah Dobson. The 12th overall pick in 2018 took a few years but has now blossomed into a force on the backend, filling a much-needed role for New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz.
After a two-assist night against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, Noah Dobson recorded his 29th and 30th assists of the season and now has 40 points in 67 games played.
He is the first New York Islanders defenseman to reach the 40-point mark since Nick Leddy accomplished that feat back in the 2014-15 season.
“Noah was really good. He made some poise plays. I think he had two assists tonight,” Trotz said. “He just keeps continuing to grow. (He) played big minutes, and you know at the end, he gave us a chance at one more crack at it.”
“The growth plate for him has been pretty steady.”
Dobson had totaled 21 points through his first two seasons in the National Hockey League in 80 games played. This season, in a more prominent role, Dobson has 40 points in just 67 games.
We asked Noah Dobson last week about his growth and his head coach Barry Trotz, and both spoke about his confidence level, his mentors, and his ability to slow the game down.
A big piece of the interview with Trotz spoke a lot about learning from mistakes, as that leads to growth.
Even on a night where he made some incredible plays, two critical plays leading to two Islanders goals, along with a diving save to stop an empty-net goal, it was not a perfect night for Dobson.
With under 10 minutes to play in the middle frame, the score even at two, the New York Islanders found themselves on a power play. With Anders Lee tied up with Luke Glendening, Noah Dobson went over to provide support, positioning himself accordingly to keep the puck inside the Dallas Stars zone if the puck came loose.
Unfortunately, Dobson bobbled the puck, and veteran forward Luke Glendening skated one-on-one with the 22-year old defenseman.
As Dobson skated backward, he had a chance to press Glendening, which would have forced the forward to shoot the puck or pass it prematurely. Instead, Dobson gave Glendening time and space as he found Faksa for a tip-in at the top of the New York Islanders crease.
We didn't planet, but that sure was nice.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 6, 2022
Dobson made a mistake or two depending on how you look at the play. It was not the reason why the New York Islanders lost the game despite the importance of the goal.
Like we have seen with Dobson all season, especially in the second half, it’s about how he responds.
Earlier in his NHL career, a mistake like that would have impacted Dobson’s performance for the rest of the game. But it didn’t on Tuesday, as he made a heroic effort late in the game, and that’s how you grow as an NHL player.
This play at the end of the game by Noah Dobson to still keep the Islanders alive was unreal pic.twitter.com/w61tiDbsGp
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) April 6, 2022
“You’re never out of it and we go down on score, you know, that was a huge play. And we almost did,” Trotz said. “So those are moments where you just, you’re in the fight, (you) stay in the fight till the very end and that’s, that’s a good attribute for him rather than, you know, just sort of, you know, letting them have what they wanted. He battled through that and give us one more opportunity to get up ice.”
Noah Dobson is playing big minutes on a nightly basis for the New York Islanders, averaging 21:09 minutes per game. He’s playing on the top power-play unit, which he has done for most of the season. With defenseman Scott Mayfield on the shelf for likely the rest of the season, Dobson has seen minutes on the penalty kill as well.
It has not just been about Dobson’s offense that has awarded him these roles.
“I think you want to build a defensive base for him so he can get more important minutes. If you just come in and you don’t build that base, then you’re not going to put them in important minutes at crucial times, you know, even from a defending standpoint,” Trotz said following Thursday’s practice. “So with Noah, he’s such a good skater and he handles the puck, he’s got good vision. I think when he first came into the league, he didn’t trust some of those great attributes, especially the skating….”
“Those elements of his game are pretty solid now.”
Not every night in the NHL will go your way, and a perfect example was Dallas Stars netminder Jake Oettinger who did not play his best brand of hockey.
However, when it mattered most, Oettinger robbed New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal with
SEND THAT PUCK TO SPACE, OTTER! 🧱🦦 pic.twitter.com/y9zzibpQdx
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 6, 2022
You make mistakes, you regroup, and you do what you can to help give your team the best chance to win. That’s how you grow as an NHL player.
Noah Dobson has grown exponentially this season into not a player who could be a difference-maker but a player who already is a difference-maker for the New York Islanders.