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New York Islanders

Dobson’s Growth in Confidence, Having Chara in His Ear, Past Mentors



Noah Dobosn, Zdeno Chara

Back on Dec. 9 at UBS Arena, the New York Islanders and Nashville Predators seemed to be on their way to overtime, with the score knotted up at three as time dwindled in the third period. With less than a minute to play, young New York Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson sent the puck around the boards from behind his own net, and the Predators scored seconds later off a point shot.

And that was the game.

“No one felt worse than the Dobson,” New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said as he reflected on that night. “But at the same time, there was a moment where you have to sort of pick yourself up off the mat.”

“On the reverse side if that moment happened again and he got small and panicked, then he wouldn’t have learned from it, and it would have been a scary moment. It wasn’t. It was a learning moment.”

What we have seen from Noah Dobson this season, more so than any other season, is the growth in his confidence. While there have still been some defensive miscues, nothing to that extent against Nashville has transpired.

On both sides of the puck, Dobson’s confidence is glistening, especially on the offensive side of the puck as he has 10 goals and 28 assists in 64 games this season.

In the contest on Tuesday, Noah Dobson’s confidence and patience were on display as he delayed before making a strong pass to Zach Parise for a tap-in at the far post.

It’s plays like that that show just how far Noah Dobson has come as an NHL defenseman. Dobson spoke on that pass to Parise and about his growth in confidence.

“I was able to find it a little earlier and just try to keep building. I think when you have that confidence, you’re able to see those plays and then make those plays and obviously have some good guys that go the right areas and put themselves in a good spot for the d-man.”

“I think what he’s done is he’s (been) able to catch up to the NHL game,” Trotz said. “And when you do that, the game is slower, and your confidence, that poise, that extra second to wait for a play to develop…like the Parise goal last game.”

“He has that sense now or that inner clock that allows things to happen a little slower for him, and then he’s able to process and do the things that he did at junior and stuff like that.”

It was a slow October and November for Noah Dobson, as he and his new linemate, Zdeno Chara, had to figure out how to play with one another, build that chemistry.

As the months transpired and the minutes played with one another grew, that defensive pairing became much more sound.

Chara, who is in his 24th NHL season, has been mentoring Dobson since he arrived this summer, and although Chara may not have been having his best season of his career, with his age 44 now 45, showing on the ice, that pairing as of late has been rather strong.

Zdeno Chara is now second on the Islanders with a plus/- of +10, with Noah Dobson right behind him with a +9.

Dobson has talked time and time again about what Chara has meant to him in terms of his development. Anytime you can learn from a player who has been around the game as long as Chara has been, that experience and those interactions are invaluable.

On Tuesday night, the MSG+ camera caught Zdeno Chara talking with Noah Dobson after a shift. MSG Networks analyst Anson Carter said during the telecast when they showed Chara chatting with Dobson that “You can’t put a price on that…this is where learning really takes place.”

Although Dobson could not recall what was said, having a veteran that loves to talk with young players has been amazing for Dobson and even means a lot to the bench boss Trotz.

“It’s worthwhile,” Dobson said. “He’s always talking and communicating, and it’s helped me a lot.”

As for what it means to Trotz, “Honestly, I think it’s fantastic. As I said, you know, Z has got years and years of experience. And so he’s a great mentor for a young guy like Dobson, but Dobson had a couple of good ones.”

If you remember, Dobson skated alongside former NHL defenseman Johnny Boychuk during his first season with the Islanders, followed by a season alongside veteran defenseman Andy Greene.

“Those type of defensemen who probably are more defenders and they are offensive guys, probably given him really good balance and give him a really good foundation so that he can be a well-rounded top player in this league for a long, long time,” Trotz said.

For 22-year old Noah Dobson, his growth has been exponential from one season to the next. Through his play, through his experience, and his mentors, Dobson is on the right path to becoming a premier defenseman in this league.

It’s not IF, it’s WHEN.