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Islanders Exaggerations and Expectations: Noah Dobson

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As the start of the season draws nearer for the New York Islanders, it’s time to discuss expectations for some of the team’s key players.

Looking across the board, expectations for the Islanders this year are wide-ranging. As we conduct this exercise, we will outline both the player’s ceiling and floor for this season and then set our expectations somewhere in the middle.

We’ve already highlighted Mathew BarzalRyan PulockBo Horvat and Oliver Wahlstrom. Now, we’ll focus on another young Islander, defenseman Noah Dobson.

After registering 51 points the year prior and signing a new, three-year contract worth $12 million, expectations skyrocketed for Dobson ahead of his fourth NHL season last year.

Rather than taking the next step, Dobson stagnated, meeting the standard but not coming close to what many hoped for. In 78 games during the regular season, he finished with 49 points with 13 goals.

Now, this year will be about redemption for Dobson, and it can go one of two ways.

Ceiling:

If you believe Islanders president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello, you think Dobson will be one of the premier offensive defensemen in the NHL for years to come.

That’s a high bar to meet, especially when his contemporaries are the likes of Cale Makar, Rasmus Dahlin and Miro Heiskanen.

Fortunately, at 23 years old, Dobson is still young enough for that to be possible, but he needs to bounce back this season. To start, he can help the Islanders improve on the man advantage.

The Islanders were horrendous on the power play last year, scoring on just 15.8% of their opportunities, with Dobson playing quarterback on the top unit. But even while his team struggled with the third-worst power play in the league, Dobson still nearly matched his production from the previous year.

If Dobson can help the Islanders fix their power play problems this season, his point total will see an uptick.

Floor:

While the blame for the Islanders’s dreadful power play doesn’t fall on Dobson entirely, he does shoulder some of it.

On more than a few occasions last year, when the puck was cycled back to him at the point, Dobson appeared to be confused as to what to do with it next. Should he shoot it? Should he pass it? If so, where? Too late. The defense had already cleared the zone.

Dobson’s indecisiveness slowed the rest of the unit. It didn’t seem to be due to a lack of skill or hockey IQ but rather a lack of confidence.

Clearly, the Islanders are still confident in him after not making any changes this summer, but is Dobson still confident in himself? He’ll have to be because he and the Islanders don’t have a choice otherwise.

Despite his team having such a dreadful power play last year, Lamoriello didn’t make any moves this summer that are expected to help fix the problem, which means the Islanders are expected to trot out the same unit this season.

Expectation:

It’s hard to imagine that Dobson is satisfied with how he played last year, so hopes should be high for him entering this season. He won’t challenge for the Norris Trophy, but this year should indicate that he hasn’t already hit his ceiling.

Dobson’s ceiling is still unknown, but given his age and ability, he’s likely far from it.

Follow Andrew Fantucchio on Twitter: @A_Fantucchio